The Russian AP Examination Construct: Weighting and Integrating of L-2 Skills at the School-to-College Juncture

Maria Lekić, University of Maryland

The need for an improved mechanism for school-to-college articulation is widely recognized in the literature and is an issue of particular importance for Russian and the other less commonly taught languages, where differences in school and university programs, small enrollments, and increasingly diverse learner preparation pose serious challenges to curriculum designers and program policy makers alike. The Russian AP Curriculum and Examination, a project of ACTR and the College Board now in its third year of field testing, has made use of modular, on-line learning and assessment materials to allow a maximum degree of customization of learning at the third and fourth year of senior secondary instruction. The present study describes briefly the standards and proficiency levels targeted by the program and examination, the forms of evidence recognized by the Russian and modern language field today in support of the performance-based claims, and examples of the tasks used by the program to produce this evidence.

Russian AP Tasks reflect the ACTFL performance standards for the targeted levels of proficiency in Russian and are elicited separately by modalities and interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive modes. The paper will review sample Russian AP tasks and discuss the rationale for the present weighting of the distinct subsections of the Russian AP test (speaking-20%, reading-20%, listening 20%, integrated tasks-25%, structural control-15%).

Thanks to the cooperation of several dozen school and university programs which have participated in the Russian AP pilot effort, performance-based data on students at corresponding levels of intermediate and advanced Russian in both high school and college programs have been collected and incorporated into the placement recommendations used by ACTR and the College Board in the Project. Data show measurable differences in predicted proficiency levels for both college and high school learners by specific skill areas, which are reflected in the placement recommendations for freshmen students entering 3rd, 4th, or 5th semester university Russian courses.