DescriptionThe Versant Dutch Test (VDT) is the newest member of the Versant suite of spoken language tests, which are fully automated and scored using speech recognition and speech processing technologies. Unlike other Versant tests, the VDT was also preceded by another automated test of spoken Dutch, the Toets Gesproken Nederlands (TGN). The TGN utilises the same scoring technology, though it also has some key differences from Versant tests. First, the TGN is a government test used for immigration and naturalisation purposes in the Netherlands. Since the acceptable Dutch language proficiency threshold for government purposes is rather low (CEFR level A1 for immigration, level B1 for naturalisation), the items in the TGN target a lower and narrower range of proficiency than do regular Versant items (which target CEFR levels A1 through C1). In addition to the difficulty of the test items, the structure of the TGN differs from the general structure of Versant tests. An agreement between the Dutch government and the Versant test development team allowed for the VDT to borrow from the TGN with regards to certain aspects of the test development process. However, due to the high stakes nature of the TGN, it was quite important to differentiate between the commercial and government version of the two similar tests.
This paper will discuss the development and validation processes for the Versant Dutch Test. Particular attention will be paid to issues of reconciliation between the VDT and other Versant tests, as well as differentiation from the TGN.