Consortium Named for Tests to Replace TOEFL

The Korean education authority has selected a consortium that will be the organizer of the new government-run English proficiency tests.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said Wednesday a group consisting of the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) and four universities will administer the first-grade-level exam of the state tests.

The new test is expected to compete with TOEFL, with hopes that it will eventually take over from the American-developed system.The ministry plans to run three levels of state-certified English tests from 2012 after conducting several pilot tests through 2011. Grade one tests will be developed for adults seeking to go to graduate school or gain employment, while grades two and three will be used for students attending elementary to high schools.

The KCCI, a key business lobby group, will cooperate with Seoul National University, the organizer of TEPS tests; Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, developer of the FLEX tests; Sookmyung Women's University, organizer of the MATE tests; and Korea University.

Three consortiums applied for the contract to develop and organize the grade one test.

Both the government and the successful consortium will provide 800 million won, meaning 1.6 billion won will be available for the development of the Internet-based test, said Keum Yong-han, a ministry official responsible for test development. The Korean Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation has been developing the grade two and three exams.

The ministry hopes that Korean universities and corporate entities will eventually adopt the tests. Currently, the U.S.-based nonprofit organization, ETS, dominates Korea's English test market through TOEFL.

Currently, the National Tax Service is reviewing whether or not to conduct an investigation into ETS over the untaxed income - amounting to billions of won - it collects in annual fees earned from Korean test takers. Ahn Byong-man, minister of education, science and technology, said that he intended to push colleges and universities to adopt the state tests.

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