English O-NET and the Core Curriculum: Expectations and Alignments
The education system in Thailand requires that students who complete their elementary and secondary school levels (Grades 6, 9, 12) have to pass the Ordinary National Educational Test (O-NET). The test is mandatory and administered annually by the National Institute of Educational Testing Service (NIETS) to be aligned with the Basic Education Core Curriculum under the purview of the national Ministry of Education (MOE). While the O-NET is claimed to be aligned with the core curriculum, criticisms for all subjects have been made on this mandatory test in the past 15 years (The Bangkok Post, 2021), especially the deficiencies in the English O-NET tests (Kaewmala, 2012). It is therefore essential to investigate how the designed test corresponds to the prescribed curriculum. By focusing on English subject, the present study aimed to compare the alignments of the O-NET test items with the learning domains set in the core curriculum. The research instruments included the English O-NET test items administered in the past four years (2016-2019), the learning domains prescribed in the basic education core curriculum, the assessments made by the three raters who were senior secondary school teachers and had experiences in teaching and preparing students for the English O-NET tests, and a group interview. The findings showed that while the test items significantly aligned with some learning domains of the basic education core curriculum, the same test items could also align with some minor requirements of other domains. Moreover, none of the test items showed an alignment with one domain. Based on the findings, some implications in terms of student preparation for the test and directions for future study are discussed.