Publications & Resources

Performance Patterns of Bilingual Children Tested in Both Languages

Dec 1981

David L. McArthur

The testing of bilingual students poses particular problems for analyses of performance, item bias, and test adequacy. When children are selected for their facility in two languages, and the same test is administered in both languages, a special arena is provided for the study of these problems. A widely-used test, the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills, is available in both English and Spanish. The vocabulary subtest was administered to 1162 second-graders in bilingual education programs throughout the Southwest, as part of a larger study; 58 of those students received both versions of the test because they were deemed equally proficient in both languages. Results show that patterns of performance for these students differ markedly between the two versions, and suggest that the test differs in important dimensions even though the Spanish version is a rather faithful translation of the English original.

McArthur, D. L. (1981). Performance patterns of bilingual children tested in both languages (CSE Report 164). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, Center for the Study of Evaluation.