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Cambridge/ILTA Distinguished Achievement Award 2020 Announced

Wednesday, December 18, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Terry Dougherty
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It is with great pleasure that we announce that the winner of the 2020 Cambridge English Language Assessment /ILTA Distinguished Achievement Award is Dr. Cathie Elder.
Cathie Elder completed her PhD in Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne in 1997.  In addition to serving as Director of the Language Testing Research Centre at the University of Melbourne she is also a Principal Fellow in the School of Languages and Linguistics at Melbourne and has worked at a number of other universities including Monash University and the University of Auckland. 
Cathie has authored or co-authored three books, nine edited collections, 28 book chapters, 72 peer-reviewed articles, 45 reports and several book and test reviews. She has also received numerous awards for her work, including winning the ILTA Award for the best published paper on language testing three times (1996, 2002, and 2005), the Robert Lado Award for Best Graduate Student Presentation at the 1997 Language Testing Research Colloquium, the ALTAANZ best paper award in 2016, and she was invited to give the Davies lecture at the LTRC conference in 2019.  Her work in the area of the assessment of language for specific purposes has demonstrated great depth and breadth. She has published highly influential papers on the assessment of language teachers, health professionals and pilots and air traffic controllers (among other professions).  She has also published prolifically and made significant contributions to the assessment of languages other than English, particularly in the school system. Another area of language testing which she pioneered is the area of post-entry language assessment (PELA), where she was one of the early contributors to this area when she started the Diagnostic English Language Needs Assessment (DELNA) at the University of Auckland. She has also published on the assessment as English as a lingua franca.  Cathie’s work has been supported through many international and national competitive grants and contracts totaling more than AUD $4,000,000 (approximately USD $3,000,000 at current rates).
Cathie has provided outstanding leadership to the language testing community internationally over the years. For the period 2006-2012 she was the Director of the Language Testing Research Centre at Melbourne, where she consolidated and enhanced its international reputation as a leading independent research centre in language testing. She has served in all the leading roles in our profession: she was the ILTA President from 2017 to 2018; she served as the co-editor of the key journal in our field, Language Testing from 2007 to 2011; she served as the Chair of the Educational Testing Service TOEFL Committee of Examiners from 2004 to 2008. She also co-chaired the Language Testing Research Colloquium in Melbourne in 2006 and is a founding member and past Co-President of the Association for Language Testing and Assessment of Australia and New Zealand (ALTAANZ).

In her recent role as ILTA President, Cathie was instrumental in instigating and reforming a number of ILTA awards and practices. For example, she chaired the public engagement sub-committee and proposed the establishment of the ILTA Advocacy/Public Engagement award, which has recently been advertised for the first time. This award will offer recognition for an advocacy or public engagement initiative in which an individual or group has intervened in some way with a party outside of academia and drawn attention to inappropriate test use in a particular context. She also developed the LTRC venue rotation policy, set the ground for  restarted the ILTA Newsletter, which was dormant for many years, and also proposed the newly established ILTA Graduate Student Assembly. prepared guidelines for the creation of Special Interest Groups.
In Australia and New Zealand, where she has made her career, she has played a leading role nationally in setting policy direction in language assessment in schools, in universities and in employment. She has influenced policies in relation to the testing of language proficiency of language teachers in various languages. She has also set the research agenda of the Occupational English Test (OET) over many years, in collaboration with the OET Centre. In her work at tertiary institutions in Australia and New Zealand, she has influenced the design and implementation of post-entry language assessments and she is still highly influential in providing thought leadership in this area. In her role as Director of the Language Testing Research Centre, she played an instrumental part in ensuring the international character and quality of work emerging from the Centre.
Cathie has had an extensive role in developing language tests throughout her career. This has included both large-scale tests and classroom assessments. She was the principal developer of the Diagnostic English Language Needs Assessment (DELNA), as mentioned above. She was also involved in the development of the Academic English Screening Test (AEST), which is currently being used at six Australian universities to screen students new to the university to ensure that there are provided with the necessary support. She developed a number of proficiency tests for language teachers of English and other languages, and, as noted above, is highly regarded for this work. These tests included the Proficiency Test for Language Teachers: Japanese and Italian. She has also worked with colleagues in other countries to developed on tests of implicit and explicit knowledge, and on computer-adaptive vocabulary size and strength tests. Through these projects she has provided thought leadership in the development and ongoing revision and validation of the tests. Cathie also steered the development work on the Occupational English Test during a time when a number of innovations were introduced to the test.
Finally, Cathie has played a very active and committed role in mentoring students and early career researchers in the field of language testing. She has supervised numerous PhD students to completion, both in New Zealand and in Australia. Some of these are now either prominent scholars in the field or highly active in other capacities in language test development and administration.
In summary, Cathie Elder’s contributions to the field have been extensive and varied and have made a major impact on the wider field of language testing. Therefore, the Award Committee has reached a unanimous decision in granting her the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Award.
Dan Douglas (Chair), Micheline Chalhoub-Deville, Jessica Wu and Nick Saville
(DAA Award Committee)

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