Meet the team

Prof. Cyril J Weir

Cyril J Weir is currently Powdrill Professor in English Language Acquisition and the Director of the Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment (CRELLA) at the University of Bedfordshire. He has a PhD in language testing. He is the author of a wide range of educational publications, including Communicative Language Testing, Understanding and Developing Language Tests and Language Testing and Validation: An evidence-based approach. He is also the co-author of Examining Writing, Examining Reading, Evaluation in ELT, Reading in a Second Language, Measured Constructs, and the co-editor of six Studies in Language Testing (SiLT) volumes. Current interests include language construct definition, the history of English language tests in the UK and validation.

He has worked closely with high stakes, international examination providers and ministries of education applying his research-based socio-cognitive framework (SCF) to their assessment policies and products to improve the quality of the language proficiency tests they offer. Nowadays, test providers are expected to offer test stakeholders explicit evidence of how they meet validity demands and technical standards in the tests they offer in the public domain. The SCF has enabled test providers to assemble the logical and empirical evidence needed to support claims about a test’s usefulness. As a result, test developers and providers have revisited their test designs and reframed their validity arguments in new and more effective ways to demonstrate evidence of test quality and fitness for purpose. Tests worked on include:

  • The College English Test (CET), The Test for English Majors (TEM),  and the Advanced English Reading Test (AERT), PRC
  • Cambridge ESOL Main Suite
  • British Council  International Language Assessment (ILA), IELTS and Aptis
  • Test of English for Academic Purposes (TEAP) and EIKEN Society for Testing English Proficiency (STEP)  Japan
  • General English Proficiency Test Taiwan

He has carried out project related consultancies in over 60 countries world-wide in the fields of  language  testing, programme and project evaluation and curriculum renewal,  and has given over 60 keynote and plenary speeches and 40 seminars/ workshops  in these areas.

Measures of Esteem

  • Series Co-Editor for Studies in Language Testing (CUP)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of Language Testing
  • Member of the Steering Group of the English Profile Project which is making a  major contribution to the revision of the  Common European Framework of  Reference  for Languages
  • Conferred as an Academician of the Social Sciences in March 2013
  • Appointed Chairman of the Assessment Advisory Board of the British Council July 20013
  • Awarded 100 Year Anniversary Medal for outstanding contribution to the work of Cambridge Assessment September 2013

Prof. Barry O’Sullivan

Professor Barry O’Sullivan is currently working with the British Council in London as Head of Assessment Research & Development. His recent work includes the design, development and validation of a placement test to be used by the British in their centres across the world and the design, development and validation of a new business to business language test called Aptis.

Barry is particularly interested in issues related to performance testing, test validation, test-data management and analysis and scaling and calibration; he has conducted research into factors affecting spoken performance, assessing rater behaviour, assessing speaking and writing, specific purpose assessment, benchmarking English language tests to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and standard setting in professional contexts.
Barry’s publications have appeared in a number of international journals and he has presented his work at international conferences around the world. ‘Issues in Business English Testing’, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2006; ‘Modelling Performance in Oral Language Testing’ was published by Peter Lang in 2008;  ‘Language Testing: Theories and Practices’ was published by in 2011 and ‘The Cambridge Guide to Language Assessment’ (with C. Coombe, P. Davidson, and S. Stoynoff, eds. ) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. He is currently working (with C. Weir) on a major project documenting a history of language testing within the British Council.

In addition to his work in the area of language testing, Barry has taught in Ireland, England, Peru and Japan.