The New Directions Conferences aim to bring policy makers, practitioners, and researchers together for meaningful conversations on universal issues and local concerns in language assessment. We meet because greater understanding of and proficiency in assessment systems is indispensable for all these stakeholders, as well as for test takers themselves. This greater understanding and proficiency is generally termed “language assessment literacy,” although this term can be inconvenient, with its connotations of basic remedial knowledge for non-testing people, rather than lifelong competency development essential to everyone, including language assessment specialists themselves (see Baker & Riches, 2018; Inbar-Lourie, 2013; Taylor, 2013).
In this talk, I will unpack the notion of competency development from both educational and workplace professional perspectives. I will then explore the extent to which language assessment literacy reflects competency development, using recent research to narrow in on relevant sub-competencies necessary for each of these stakeholders. For example, professional workplace competency development for teachers includes learning technical skills and deciding on the cultural relevance of assessment topics. For policy makers, competency in language assessment includes awareness of appropriate and inappropriate uses of language assessment information. For students and other test takers, competence includes using test expectations to enhance their agency in identifying strategies to improve their learning.