|The Comprehensive Assessment Program (CAP) is an important examination for Taiwanese junior high school students entering senior high school. The following study aims to (a) analyze the multiple- choice questions in each section of the Basic Competence Test (BCT) and the CAP English test, (b) explore the English test trends on CAP, and (c) discuss whether the English evaluations of the BCT reflect the content of the official junior high school syllabus for English teaching. Selected materials for data analysis are the multiple-choice questions of the English tests, collected the 2012-2013 BCT and, the 2014-2015 CAP, and the official junior high school English teaching syllabus.
First, in order to examine the content and skill focuses of each test, the data from the 2012-2013 BCT and 2014-2015 CAP are analyzed by Microsoft Excel. The data is then used to look at the different purposes of each section and the percentage of each tests’ focus on these different skills. Finally, the official junior high school syllabus of English teaching is compared with the CAP to see whether the content of these tests reflects the stated purposes of the syllabus.
The major findings indicate that (a) in the previous BCTs, the first question of the test required students to view the figure or sentence and choose the correct vocabulary word to fill the blank. The first CAP examinations in 2014 did not contain these questions, but in 2015, it returned to the single question format for the topic and previous model. By returning to the simple and, intuitive format of selecting a vocabulary word, the test reflects that the isolated knowledge of vocabulary no longer plays the most important role in the English tests of the CAP, (b) instead, reading skills take the predominant role, by testing students’ ability to decipher and understand meaning in context. (c) The CAP employs reading passages containing long and complex sentences that focus on testing students' abilities to understand the article’s overall implications. (d) By focusing strictly on the length of readings that students are able to process, rather than strengthening integrated reading comprehension, the English tests of the CAP may fail to reflect the content of the official junior high school syllabus of English teaching.
Based on these findings, it is clear that the multiple-choice question format is neither the only nor the best way to evaluate learners’ English abilities. Furthermore, the washback effects of the CAP or the impact that test structure has on the teaching style and aims in future classes, may be negative due to the failure of these tests to adequately reflect the content of the official junior high school syllabus of English teaching. These items hold important implications for the design of the English tests of the CAP in the future.