Dorry Kenyon, PhD

Senior Fellow for Assessment

Dorry M. Kenyon is a Senior Fellow for Assessment, contributing to the CAL-WIDA partnership activities and other CAL projects, providing high level guidance and expertise to CAL's language assessment projects and initiatives.

Through September 2018, Dr. Kenyon served as Vice President, Director of Assessment for CAL, with primary responsibility for preK-12 English language learner assessment and research. Active in research on language testing, Dr. Kenyon is particularly interested in the application of new technology to language assessment problems.

Dr. Kenyon’s unique expertise lies at the intersection of applied linguistics, language teaching, language testing, and psychometrics. He received his Ph.D. in measurement, applied statistics, and evaluation from the University of Maryland. He also holds a masters degree in teaching English as a foreign language from the American University in Cairo, a masters in theological studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a bachelors degree in German and economics from Bowdoin College. Prior to joining CAL in 1987, he taught German and English as a foreign or second language for 7 years in the United States and abroad.

At CAL, Dr. Kenyon has had considerable experience in all aspects of designing, developing, validating, and operationalizing both English and foreign language assessments for language learners of all ages, preschool through adult. Dr. Kenyon also serves as senior advisor on a variety of assessment and research projects at CAL, and previously served as CAL’s chief psychometrician, as leader of CAL’s psychometrics/research team, and as director of CAL’s former Language Testing Division.

Major assessment projects directed by Dr. Kenyon include the development of both the framework and the item and test specifications for the first foreign language assessment for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); and development of BEST Plus, a computer-assisted oral assessment for adult English language learners used for the National Reporting System, with over 500,000 administrations a year. Dr. Kenyon has also worked on a variety of foreign language assessments, including technology-mediated speaking tests in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hausa, Hebrew, Indonesian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Dr. Kenyon currently serves as the director of CAL/WIDA partnership activities related to the assessment of academic English language development for the 33-state World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) consortium. These activities include test development and psychometric work for several assessment instruments:

  • ACCESS for ELLs®, an integrated, standards-based system to assess the English language development of English learners in Grades K–12, used to assess about 1,000,000 students annually;
  • Alternate ACCESS,used for English learners with significant cognitive disabilities;
  • PODER, an assessment of Spanish academic language development; and
  • next generation computer-based summative, interim, and screener academic English language development assessments.

Visit the WIDA project page to learn more.

Dr. Kenyon is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries related to language assessment. He has been an active member of the language testing profession throughout his career and frequently serves on committees that review language-assessment-related abstracts for professional conferences and on committees that select award recipients to encourage the growth of professionals in the field. He helped establish the East Coast Organization of Language Testers (ECOLT) in 2002 and has served as a member of the editorial board of the journal Language Assessment Quarterly since 2003. He served for 10 years, 1993–2002, as book review editor for the journal Language Testing; as an at-large member of the International Language Testing Association board from 2001 to 2003; and was coordinator of the 16th Annual Language Testing Research Colloquium in 1994.

Dr. Kenyon has also served on several national advisory committees. He was a member of the steering committee for the revision of the NAEP writing framework. Dr. Kenyon, having served on the Defense Language Testing Advisory Panel since 2006, will assume chairmanship of the panel beginning fall, 2015. He is also an active member of several professional organizations, including the International Language Testing Association (ILTA), the National Council on Measurement in Education (NCME), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He presents frequently at national and international venues such as the Language Testing Research Colloquium and the annual meetings of NCME and AERA. He has also taught a language testing course for the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University.


WIDA Partnership


CAL collaborates with the 39-state WIDA Consortium in its work to provide standards-based assessments for English language learners, most prominently on the Consortium’s assessment of English language proficiency, ACCESS for ELLs®. The test is currently taken by over 1,000,000 students annually.