High-Stakes Testing in the Warm Heart of Africa:The Challenges and Successes of the Malawi National Examinations Board

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In the United States, tests are held to high standards of quality. In developing countries such as Malawi, psychometricians must deal with these same high standards as well as several additional pressures such as widespread cheating, test administration difficulties due to challenging landscapes and poor resources, difficulties in reliably scoring performance assessments, and extreme scrutiny from political parties and the popular press. The purposes of this paper are to (a) familiarize the measurement community in the US about Malawi’s
assessment programs, (b) discuss some of the unique challenges inherent in such a program, (c) compare testing conditions and test administration formats between Malawi and the US, and (d) provide suggestions for improving large-scale testing in countries such as the US and Malawi. By learning how a small country instituted and supports its current testing programs, a broader perspective on resolving current measurement problems throughout the world will emerge.


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How to Cite
Chakwera, E., Khembo, D., & Sireci, S. G. . (2004). High-Stakes Testing in the Warm Heart of Africa:The Challenges and Successes of the Malawi National Examinations Board. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12, 29. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v12n29.2004
Author Biographies

Elias Chakwera, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Domasi College

Elias W. J. Chakwera is Deputy Principal of Domasi College of Education in Malawi, where he teaches courses in Testing, Measurement and Evaluation. He is also a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His areas of expertise and interest include evaluation of educational assessments, teacher education and development, and training teachers through distance education. His recent research activities include studies on content validity, test score generalizability, consequential validity, and teacher upgrading through distance education in Malawi.

Dafter Khembo, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malawi National Examinations Board

Dafter J. Khembo is currently a doctoral student in Testing & Measurement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received his B.Ed from the University of Malawi in 1986 and MA (Education) from the University of London Institute of Education in 1991. He is presently an employee of the Malawi National Examinations Board where he works as a Research & Test Development Officer. His areas of interest include: standard setting, differential item functioning, and test score equating.

Stephen G. Sireci, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Stephen G. Sireci is Associate Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Center for Educational Assessment at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. His areas of expertise include educational test development and the evaluation of educational assessments. His most recent research activities include evaluating content validity, test bias, differential item functioning, and the comparability of different language versions of tests and questionnaires. His vita can be accessed at http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~sireci.