Language assessment for under- and postgraduate students in Russia: state of art and perspectives

New national curricula set new goals for different stages of institutionalized education in Russia. The focus in all the six of them is shifted from knowledge-centered education to developing competences that integrate subject knowledge and cognitive skills, critical thinking, and capability to set and realize research tasks. The role of FL learning in this respect can hardly be overestimated as in FL class students inevitably integrate knowledge from various subject areas; master receptive and productive oral and written skills together with critical thinking abilities. It has been proved, that national standardized exams (EGE) had an enormous backwash effect on the unification of the system of education, resulted in achieving certain objectivity and comparability of students’ final grades nationwide. Although nobody denies the role of FL learning at universities, we still do not have anything like standardized language test for under- and post graduate students. The existing forms of university leaving exams can hardly pass any professional expertise and validation. Time has come for the professional community to agree on whether we can set unified expectations for entrance and graduate levels of FL proficiency for BA, MA and post graduate students’; to what extent can international language exams be accepted and should they be the only instrument to measure students’ ability to cope with programs our Universities offer. It is not for nothing that many leading universities in Britain, apart from IELTS, CAE and other exams offer entrance tests assessing integrated academic thinking skills in English for both native and non-native candidates. To design a valid and reliable test we need a team, aware of the basics of standardized assessment, ready to conduct thorough research and piloting. The task is too ambitious for any university, but it can be achieved by a consortium of leading national universities.