Last year I wrote about a change in the TOEFL Bulletin regarding the cancellation of scores due to invalidity. As I explained, prior to November 2022, the Bulletin explained that in cases of TOEFL scores being cancelled due to questionable validity,
“ETS notifies the test taker in writing about its concerns, gives the test taker an opportunity to submit information that addresses those concerns, considers any such information submitted, and offers the test taker a choice of options. The options may include voluntary score cancelation, a free re-test, a voucher for a future test, or arbitration in accordance with the ETS standard Arbitration Agreement.”
The above didn’t seem to apply to cases of suspected CHEATING, as in those cases scores were simply canceled outright with no opportunity to file an appeal or submit information. It seemed to apply only in cases where scores were “invalid.” More on what that can mean in a moment.
The appeal process was decent. Test takers could request a summary of the statistical evidence of invalidity. and if they chose to please their case, ETS convened a panel of three esteemed staffers to review it. Kind of like the “Stand and Deliver” situation many decades ago. Anyway, several test takers reached out to me for help. And hey…. one time a test taker who reached out even got the decision overturned.
If the appeal was denied the test taker would get a voucher to take the test again at no additional cost. Actually, they could just skip the appeal and take the voucher ASAP.
In November of 2022, the policy changed. The beginning of the above passage was modified to read,
“Score cancellation decisions are not subject to appeal to ETS. For test takers within the United States, before canceling scores based on substantial evidence of invalidity, ETS notifies the test taker in writing about…”
You can see the difference. Since then, test takers outside the US have seemingly been unable to appeal the decision to cancel scores for validity reasons. Also, there seems to be no voucher or refund offered.
I mention this now because I spotted a couple of complaints about it this afternoon – one from a TOEFL test taker and one from a GRE test taker. They are both pretty annoyed. I’ve attached the email sent by ETS to the TOEFL test taker.
As you can see, his score was canceled due to two issues. First, an inconsistency in his performance on either the reading or listening section vs his performance on the speaking section. That is… he scored very well on one section and very poorly on another. Second, “inconsistent testing times” were flagged. According to previous summaries, this means (in the words of ETS) “test takers who receive a high section score but complete the section in a short amount time [sic].”
I mention this because it is the first time I’ve encountered it since the changes to the TOEFL and GRE. And, of course, it is worth knowing about the policies and procedures of standardized testing.