AP[R] Italian Language and Culture Course and Exam

By Nuessel, Frank | Italica, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

AP[R] Italian Language and Culture Course and Exam


Nuessel, Frank, Italica


In late June of 2003, the College Board[R], a hot-for-profit membership association, decided to develop an Advanced Placement Program[R] (AP[R]) course and exam in Italian language and culture that will have profound implications for the teaching of Italian as a second language in this decade and beyond. Moreover, the course and exam will have equally important ramifications for existing AP language programs (French, German, Latin, Spanish) and several proposed language courses and exams (Chinese, Japanese, Russian) because of its inclusion of culture as an explicit component of the test.

Announcements of this significant academic initiative have appeared in recent issues of the AATI Newsletter (Baldini; Kleinhenz 1, 3; Mita; "College Participation Needed"). The schedule of events in the launching of this milestone course and test will begin with an AP Summer Institute in summer 2005 as well as AP workshops throughout the year, the offering of the first AP Italian course in fall 2005, and the first administration of the exam in May 2006. The genesis and successful promulgation of the prestigious AP course and exam is a tribute to the leadership of the AATI, the government of Italy (the Italian Embassy, the Educational Directors of the various Italian Consulates in the US), the National Italian American Foundation, the Order of Sons of Italy in America, UNICO National Inc., several prominent people from the Italian community (including Mrs. Matilda Raffa Cuomo and Dr. Margaret Cuomo Meier), all of the members of the original Proposal Committee, Educational Testing Service[R] (ETS[R]), as well as the College Board. Once launched in the 2005-2006 academic year, the AP Italian Language and Culture course and exam will enhance the Italian curriculum in North America, and if will strengthen Italian studies programs in colleges and universities by allowing students to place into advanced courses.

The Development of the AP Italian Course and Exam

The development of the AP Italian Language and Culture course and exam is following a specific timeline to ensure its successful initiation for the 2005-2006 academic year. Last academic year, the members of a national AP Italian Language and Culture Task Force met on three occasions at the College Board offices to develop a course description and exam specifications. During the current (2004-2005) academic year, the AP Italian Language and Culture Development Committee will again convene three times to develop exam questions in coordination with the College Board and Educational Testing Service[R] (ETS[R]) for the first exam to be administered in May 2006.

This year, representatives of the College Board, including some of the members of last year's Task Force and new members of the Development Committee, will convene at professional organizations such as the American Association of Teachers of Italian, the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and similar meetings to present sessions and workshops devoted to the AP Italian Language and Culture course and exam to interested instructors who seek information so that they may participate next year. Discussions will include the course description, the exam specifications, sample test items, the teacher's guidelines, related materials and professional development workshops and institutes that will be held starting in 2005.

Evaluation and Assessment

The exam itself will utilize the ACTFL Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century with its "5 Cs" (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, Communities) and the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines as revised (Breiner-Sanders, Lowe, Miles, and Swender; Breiner-Sanders, Swender, and Terry) as a basis for its evidence-based approach to assessment.

Evaluation of communication will involve three modes: Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational. The AP Central[R] Web site (http://apcentral.

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