Our testing program is two tiered, with both U.S. and German tests given at various levels. On the German side of the ledger, our testing program begins in Level 5 with the Internationale schulische Vergleichsarbeit A1. Designed to resemble a game (Sternchenspiel), the IVA A1 shows student proficiency in each of the four language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing by awarding up to three stars in each skill category. Thus, it is it is possible to score on the level of A1 in listening comprehension and reading, but not in speaking or writing. Whoever earns all three stars in all four categories is functioning at least on the level A1 in all four language skills. One or two stars in one or more categories would suggest that more work may be needed in that area. (Or it was a bad test, bad day, or some other issue. Parents are urged to not read too much into it.) It really means, not quite there yet.
Testing at a Glance
IGS Level 5 Internationale schulische Vergleichsarbeit (IVA) A1 (Sternchenspiel)
IGS Level 6 National German Exam I
IGS Level 7 National German Exam II, Possibly the IVA A2
IGS Level 8 National German Exam II, IVA A2 if not previously taken
IGS Level 9 National German Exam III, Possibly Deutsches Sprachdiplom (DSD) 1
IGS Level 10 National German Exam III, DSD 1 if not previously taken
IGS Level 11 National German Exam IV, Possibly DSD 2 and/or AP
IGS Level 12 National German Exam IV, DSD 2 and/or AP if not previously taken
Internationale Schulische Vergleichsarbeit
Following the Internationale schulische Vergleichsarbeit A1 in level 5, students take the Internationale schulische Vergleichsarbeit A2 in level 7 or 8. This test, formerly known as the Zentrale Deutschprüfung, also tests the four language skills, but on the level A2. The designations A1 and A2 refer to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). As is the case in the Sternchenspiel in level 5, it is possible to score on the A2 level in one or more areas, e.g., in listening comprehension, reading, and speaking, but not in writing. Both the IVA A1 and A2 have as a kind of subtitle “Auf dem Weg zum DSD!”—They are designed to prepare students for the more rigorous and high stakes Deutsches Sprachdiplom (DSD), levels 1 and 2. The IVA A1 and A2 are not even low stakes; they are really no stakes, but they do give us, students and parents a good sense of what we need to work on, and they are excellent practice for the DSD.
Our students typically take the Deutsches Sprachdiplom Stufe I in level nine or ten and the DSD II in level 11 or 12. Unlike much American testing, including the College Board’s Advanced Placement Exam, where the various skills are tested and the scores averaged together to yield a final grade, the German tests measure each skill (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) separately and provide a score for each. A representative of the Zentralstelle für das Auslandsschulwesen actually visits our school to conduct the oral testing. A passing grade on the DSD II certifies that the student has sufficient proficiency to study at a German University.
On the American side of the testing ledger, students participate in the National German Exam of the American Association of Teachers of German starting in level 6. Depending on proficiency, this testing would look like this: IGS Level 6: NGE Level I, IGS levels 7 & 8: NGE level II, IGS levels 9 & 10: NGE level III, and IGS levels 11 & 12: NGE level IV. The NGE offers us good comparisons of our students’ performance vis-à-vis students in regular schools, but it does not test speaking or writing. (The NGE also offers our students the opportunity to win prizes and awards; and many do.) Test results can also be reported to the student’s regular school for inclusion on his or her permanent record.
Advanced Placement (AP) German Language and Culture Exam
This examination, administered by the College Board, is designed to determine if a student who has completed college-level courses while in high school should be awarded advanced placement, credit, or both upon entering college. The AP German course is designed to be equivalent to a third-year or advanced college course. At present, the Immanuel German School is the only school in Philadelphia authorized by the College Board to teach Advanced Placement German.
In addition to the four language skills, which the College Board further subdivides into Interpersonal Spoken and Presentational Spoken, Interpersonal Writing and Presentational Writing, Interpretive Reading and Listening Comprehension, the AP course is structured around six themes: Beauty and Aesthetics, Contemporary Life, Families and Communities, Global Challenges, Personal and Private Identities, and Science and Technology.