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Title: Examinee Abilities and Task Difficulty in Task-based Second Language Performance Assessment 
Author: Norris, John M.; Brown, J.D.; Hudson, Thom D.; Bonk, William
Date: 2002
Abstract: This article summarizes findings from investigations into the development and use of a prototype English language task-based performance test. Data included performances by 90 examinees on 13 complex and skills-integrativetasks, a priori estimations of examinee proficiency differences, a priori estimations of task difficulty based on cognitive processing demands, performance ratings according to task-specific as well as holistic scales and criteria, and examinee self-ratings. Findings indicated that the task-based test could inform intended inferences about examinees’ abilities to accomplish specific tasks as well as inferences about examinees’ likely abilities with a domain of tasks. Although a relationship between task difficulty estimates and examinee performances was observed, these estimates were not found to provide a trustworthy basis for inferring examinees’ likely abilities with other tasks. These findings, as well as study limitations, are further discussed in light of the intended uses for performance assessment within language education, and recommendations are made for needed research into the interaction between task features, cognitive processing and language performance.
Pages/Duration: 24 pages
Keywords: task-based performance test, assessment, task difficulty, test development

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