Testing in bilingual education projects: Lessons learnt from the Additive Bilingual Education Project

  • Elize Susara Koch Psychology, University of the Western Cape
Keywords: additive bilingual education, home language based bilingual education, post colonial, language in education policy, testing and assessment, large scale educational testing, annual national assessment, bias and equivalence, cross linguistic testing, bilin


This paper discusses the topic of bilingual testing, and the role played by the language of tests in home-language-based bilingual education projects such as the Additive BiLingual Education (ABLE) project.  More specifically, we highlight how national, macro-contextual issues have impacted on the project team’s decision to move away from an experimental approach in the research, necessitating the use of tests, to a more participatory action research approach.  The implications of these macro-contextual factors for projects of a similar nature, and suggestions for engagement, are given.  In addition to discussing the impact of discrepancies between the additive bilingual language in education policy of the DoE of SA (LiEP) and practices around the language of tests such as in the Annual National Assessments (ANA), the paper also engages with the concept of bilingual educational testing,  and how we dealt with it in the project.    Research on the equivalence of  the tests used in the ABLE project is synthesised, and the lesson learnt  discussed.  It is argued that bilingual tests could contribute to a radical new way of approaching language in education in the context of  South Africa.


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Author Biography

Elize Susara Koch, Psychology, University of the Western Cape
I am currently a research associate at the Education Faculty, NMMU and an extraordinary associate professor at the Psychology department, UWC. I specialise in measurement and assessment in education and psychology, and have a background and interest in bilingual developmental education and literacy development. My publications were mainly in the areas of bias and equivalence in measurement, and bilingual testing.