Test Redesign Concerns

(the response so far)

As readers of this blog are aware, a number of citizenship educators and immigration advocates have weighed in recently with the Office of Citizenship to express concerns about proposed changes to the citizenship test. I thought I'd share the letter some of us received last week from Eva Millona, the Chief of the Office of Citizenship, Partnership, and Engagement:

Dear [Stakeholders],

Thank you for taking the time to engage with USCIS and provide feedback on the proposed multiple-choice civics test.

At USCIS, we share the same concern for applicants with low literacy. As such, the agency is taking steps to ensure that the needs of this constituency are considered in the development of this test. For example, we have encouraged programs that serve applicants with low literacy to participate in trial testing of the items. USCIS plans to share data on item performance and the specific concerns raised in your letter with the external subject matter experts on the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and take in their feedback.

USCIS will work with the TAG before the trial test to review drafts of the content, structure, and administration of the speaking and multiple-choice civics tests. After the trial test, USCIS will provide the TAG data on item performance. The TAG will review the data from the trial test and make recommendations for revisions on both tests.

As the contractor, TESOL will document the design and revision process, and it will produce a report that will be made public.

In short, we are using the next several months to test various assumptions about the form and content, as well as the need for, a redesigned naturalization test and have not come to any final conclusions before we have taken in data and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders.

For updates on the Naturalization Test Redesign Development please visit:

We look forward to your continued support.

Eva Millona
Chief, USCIS Office Citizenship, Partnership, and Engagement

My thoughts on this response: No doubt this letter is meant to be reassuring, but it's hard to see where any meaningful changes in the proposed test or test development process are underway. To put it bluntly, I'm underwhelmed. It seems that we will have to put our faith in the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to point out the many wrong turns that the test development process has taken so far, and either get things on a different track, or pull the plug altogether. It's hard to have a lot of confidence in the TAG when even the names and qualifications of the (hurriedly) selected language acquisition and test development experts are not being released. But I will keep on following this situation and let you know if anything changes in the future.