This article investigates the conditions that cause a negative washback impact on English as language teaching (ELT) in Indonesian secondary schools. I interviewed eight English teachers to learn about the factors influencing their pedagogical choices for the test. This research draws on the literature of washback research and empirical evidence for the notion that contextual factors and external social cultural elements may have a significant role in defining the form of washback. Emphasizing the causal relationship concerning instruction and testing may be unduly simplified if it only covers its washback effect on the teachers and their teaching practices. High-stakes testing could impact several factors beyond learning and teaching activities. It may include elements in which teaching and testing are embedded. The findings of this study implied social and cultural factors influence the washback effect of the national examination, including social pressure, collectivism, curriculum alignment, and fairness. This study demonstrated how schools used test results as a source of promotion to provide stakeholders with the knowledge they needed to fully engage in the marketized educational system. The conclusions of this article have significant implications for school administrators and policymakers.


high-stakes testing, semi-structured interview, Indonesia, secondary school, washback

Author Bio(s)

Maya has worked in the field of English language teaching for over ten years, starting with being an English teacher at a state primary school for three years, a lecturer of English education at a private university, doing a master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other’s Languages (TESOL) and during her doctoral work at the University of Glasgow on the washback of the English national examination on teachers, students and parents. Maya joined the Universitas Terbuka in March 2022. She is a graduate of STKIP Bale Bandung (B.Ed.), the University of Edinburgh (M.Sc.) and the University of Glasgow (Ph.D.). Following to joining the Universitas Terbuka, she is an assistant professor in the postgraduate study of English education. She teaches master students of English education about assessment in language teaching, grammar analysis and evaluation of the educational programme. Maya’s previous research project examined the impact of COVID-19 on the implementation of formative assessment at the secondary schooling level in Indonesia. She has been appointed to be a reviewer in several journals of English language teaching. She sits as one of the editors of the International Journal of English Language and Pedagogy (IJELP). Her research interests revolve around English language teaching, assessment in language teaching, sociology in education and qualitative method. She can be reached at maya_p@ecampus.ut.ac.id.


This article is part of the writer’s thesis submitted to the University of Glasgow and was published in 2020. The research project was under the supervision of Professor E. Louise Hayward and Professor Oscar Odena from the University of Glasgow. The project was fully funded by The Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, Technology and Higher Education.

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