By the late 1990s, a number of ALTE members and affiliates had been asked by their governments or state authorities to develop language testing systems for migration, residency or citizenship purposes. This represented a shift of emphasis away from the use of language tests to facilitate language learning to connecting financial and civic rights sanctions to language test results. As a result, these ALTE members and associates had to bridge the gap between their professional and ethical position as language testers and the demands made by politically motivated sponsors.
This led to the establishment of the Language Assessment for Migration and Integration (LAMI) Special Interest Group (SIG). The Group provides a platform for language testers to discuss these issues, and also supports ALTE members and affiliates in their attempts to ensure issues of test fairness, and that the relationship between testing and civil and human rights is properly understood and considered by policy makers.
The LAMI SIG has been very active in organising workshops and stimulating debates within ALTE meetings and SIG members have also initiated and participated in external events.
The LAMI group also cooperates with external bodies such as the Council of Europe. This cooperation has resulted in a survey on developments in language testing and migration in the European countries and the publication of a document with the title “Language tests for social cohesion and citizenship – an outline for policy makers”. In this document, guidance is offered to language testers and policymakers involved in setting up assessment programs in relation to immigration, integration and citizenship. Issues covered include the use and impact of language tests, test purposes and validity, levels of language proficiency, data analysis and quality assurance.