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AP Spanish Language Update on Changes to the Course and Exam

Changes to the 2009 exam
AP Spanish Language Course and Exam Claims and Evidence

The AP Spanish Language course is designed to be comparable to advanced level (fifth- and sixth- semester or the equivalent) college/university Spanish language courses. In order to maintain this equivalence, the course and exam are periodically revised to reflect evolving college/university curricula. The AP Spanish Development Committee, which is comprised of AP Spanish teachers and college/university faculty who teach corresponding courses, has adopted a plan to implement changes to the AP Spanish Language course and exam over the coming years in order to ensure the continued equivalence of the AP course with college/university courses. In addition, the committee seeks to appropriately incorporate best practices from evolving philosophies of language instruction and language testing within the profession by considering documents such as the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and the Standards for Foreign Language Learning.

Changes to the 2009 exam
Changes will be introduced with the exam administered in May 2009 based on a new curriculum (see Claims and Evidence below). These changes will include new question types and a new exam format. The AP Spanish Development Committee made final decisions based on input from a number of sources:
  • A survey of faculty teaching third-year advanced Spanish language courses to assess the key characteristics of college/university curricula
  • Reviews of the current exam by language teaching and testing specialists to gauge the exam's quality
  • A "foreign language framework" from the College Board's Foreign Language Academic Advisory Committee to outline a basis for the testing of foreign languages
  • Comment sessions at the AP Spanish Language Reading and the AP Annual Conference to solicit opinions from AP and college/university teachers
  • Tryout studies to determine the feasibility of creating, administering, and scoring new question types (see AP Spanish Language Field Test Tasks below)
  • An AP Central survey of AP Spanish Language teachers to compile feedback regarding necessary changes to the exam
Details about new exam tasks can be accessed by clicking on the links in the "AP Spanish Language 2007 Exam Format" table below. In addition to the official AP Spanish Course Description, information about the changes and professional support for AP Spanish Language teachers will be provided in a number of ways:
  • Presentations at professional conferences, such as the AP Annual Conference, and those of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), and the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL)
  • Training for College Board AP Spanish consultants
  • Professional development workshops for AP Spanish teachers
  • Publication of the AP Spanish Language Teacher's Guide
  • Announcements on AP Central and the AP Spanish Electronic Discussion Group
Spanish Language Course and Exam Claims and Evidence
The student who receives an AP grade of 3, 4, or 5 on the AP Spanish Language Exam has mastered -- to a degree commensurate with the AP grade -- the skills and knowledge required to receive credit for an advanced level (fifth- and sixth-semester or the equivalent) college/university Spanish language course.
  • The student has strong communicative ability in Spanish in interpersonal, presentational, and interpretive modes.
  • The student has a strong command of Spanish linguistic skills (including accuracy and fluency) that support communicative ability.
  • The student comprehends Spanish intended for native speakers in a variety of settings, types of discourse, topics, styles, registers, and broad regional variations.
  • The student produces Spanish comprehensible to native speakers in a variety of settings, types of discourse, topics, and registers.
  • The student acquires information from authentic sources in Spanish.
  • The student is aware of some cultural perspectives of Spanish-speaking peoples.
*Claims "are statements we'd like to make about what students know, can do, or have accomplished" (Mislevy, Steinberg, and Almond, 2002).

The AP Spanish Language student can:
  • Identify and summarize the main points and significant details and make appropriate inferences and predictions from a spoken source, such as a broadcast news report or a lecture, on an academic or cultural topic related to the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Identify and summarize the main points and significant details and predict outcomes from an everyday conversation on a familiar topic, a dialogue from a film or other broadcast media, or an interview on a social or cultural topic related to the Spanish-speaking world.
  • Identify and summarize main points and important details and make appropriate inferences and predictions from a written text, such as a newspaper or magazine article or a contemporary literary excerpt.
  • Write a cohesive and coherent analytical or persuasive essay in reaction to a text or on a personal, academic, cultural, or social issue with control of grammar and syntax.
  • Describe, narrate, and present information and/or persuasive arguments on general topics with grammatical control and good pronunciation in an oral presentation of two or three minutes.
  • Use information from sources provided to present a synthesis and express an opinion.
  • Recognize cultural elements implicit in oral and written texts.
  • Interpret linguistic cues to infer social relationships.
  • Communicate via formal and informal written correspondence.
  • Initiate, maintain, and close a conversation on a familiar topic.
  • Formulate questions to seek clarification or additional information.
  • Use language that is semantically and grammatically accurate according to a given context.

**Evidence comprises observable work products, which can be evaluated to substantiate intended claims (Mislevy, Almond, and Lukas, 2003).

AP Spanish Language 2009 Exam Format

Section Item Type Number of Questions and % Weight of Final Score Time
Section I Multiple Choice 70-75 questions 50% 85-90 min.
Part A: Listening Short and Long Dialogues and Narratives 30-35 questions 20% 30-35 min.
Part B: Reading Reading Comprehension 35-40 questions 30% 50-60 min.
Section II Free Response 50% Approx. 85 min.
Part A: Writing Informal Writing 1 prompt (10%)
10 minutes
30% Approx. 65 min.
Formal Writing
(Integrated Skills)
1 prompt (20%)
55 minutes
Part B: Speaking Informal Speaking
(Simulated Conversation)
5-6 response prompts (10%)
20 seconds to respond to each
20% Approx. 20 min.
Formal Oral Presentation
(Integrated Skills)
1 prompt (10%)
2 minutes to respond

* Robert J. Mislevy, Linda S. Steinberg, and Russell G. Almond, Design and Analysis in Task-Based Language Assessment (CSE Technical Report 579) (Los Angeles: Center for the Study of Evaluation; National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing; Graduate School of Education and Information Studies; and University of California, Los Angeles; 2002), www.cse.ucla.edu/reports/TR579.pdf.

** Robert J. Mislevy, Russell G. Almond, and Janice F. Lukas, A Brief Introduction to Evidence-Centered Design (College Park, Maryland: College of Education at the University of Maryland, 2003), www.education.umd.edu/EDMS/mislevy/papers/BriefIntroECD.pdf.

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