Misurata University, Libya
The effect of language tests on teaching and learning is described in language education as “washback”. Highstakes public examinations, thus, are often used as tools of control in the school system. Recently, the Libyan Education Authority adopted major changes into the existing Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in English aiming to promote a positive washback effect on classroom teaching. This paper investigates the kind of relationship between testing and teaching according to teachers’ beliefs and perceptions of the introduced exam. To address these issues, a mixed methods approach was utilized: questionnaires were distributed to 100 teachers and interviews were conducted with 11 teachers from the same sample surveyed. The study found that teachers expressed negative rather than positive views towards the exam. Teachers criticized the exam especially in terms of practicality and content validity as most teachers declared that congruence between the new exam and the curriculum is tenuous. However, teachers welcomed the policy regarding exam format and style. While some desired aims were achieved through the exam, others were not. Findings showed that the exam did exert washback effect in that teachers experienced and/or implemented changes in their classroom instructional practices. Thus findings indicated that exams did exert washback on teachers’ attitudes and beliefs towards their classroom teaching. However, particularly in this study, data was self-reported via questionnaires and interviews, classroom observations would provide more tangible evidence on teachers' actual classroom teaching practices as a result of exam change.
BECE, classroom practices, exam, teachers’ attitudes, teachers’ perception, washback