Update on the Second Language Evaluation Test of Written Expression and Test of Reading Comprehension in the Second Official Language (12-14)


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As part of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) ongoing effort to strengthen the security of its Second Language Evaluation (SLE) tests, I am pleased to announce several enhancements to second official language testing. Over the next year, the PSC will implement the following three initiatives for the SLE - Test of Written Expression and the SLE - Test of Reading Comprehension:

  • (1) Launch of computer generated testing for SLE tests;
  • (2) Integration of SLE and pilot testing; and
  • (3) Implementation of mandatory e-testing.

Computer-generated testing (CGT) is the automated production of many different, but equally difficult, versions of a test from a large bank of test questions. Each test-taker will receive one of these versions that are comprised of official test questions and pilot questions. The pilot questions will not count towards test-takers’ scores but may be used, at a later date, as part of the bank of test questions. The pilot questions comply with the official test specifications and have been approved for use by a multidisciplinary group of subject matter experts.

CGT enhances test security by reducing the likelihood that any one test-taker will receive an identical set of test questions and by enabling the quick deactivation of suspect test questions while testing continues with uncompromised content. The integration of SLE testing and pilot testing reduces the need for separate pilot sessions, the exposure of test content and improves the efficiency of test development.

Finally, mandatory online e-testing will reduce security risks related to shipping, receiving and storage of paper and pencil tests. In addition, it will help meet the paperless agenda of the Government of Canada. E-testing also reduces the time required to score tests and communicate tests results to human resources (HR) personnel and hiring managers.

These professionally-recognized testing practices will enable ongoing renewal of the SLE test questions, ensure improved test security and further support the integrity of SLE test results.

The planned implementation schedule is as follows:

  • Throughout 2012-2013: The PSC will work closely with federal organizations to progressively implement the mandatory use of e-testing for SLE by March 31, 2013. The PSC will be communicating directly with organizations’ test centres on this initiative.
  • October 29, 2012: Implement CGT for the SLE - Test of Written Expression;
  • October 29, 2012: Implement pilot questions for the SLE - Test of Written Expression and the SLE - Test of Reading Comprehension; and
  • June, 2013: Implement CGT for the SLE-Test of Reading Comprehension.

We look forward to working with you on the successful implementation of these significant initiatives and encourage you to share this letter with the HR advisors and official language stakeholders in your organization.

Please contact Jennifer Macdonald at 613-992-9739, or by e-mail at jennifer.macdonald@cfp-psc.gc.ca if you have questions about the development of these tests.

If you have questions about the implementation of these tests, please contact Nathalie Connolly at 613-996-8842, or by e-mail at nathalie.connolly@cfp-psc.gc.ca.

Visit the PSC Web site for more information.

Thank you for your continued collaboration.


Gerry Thom
Staffing and Assessment Services Branch