These days a child’s language abilities are tested in kindergarten and the results of these language tests are used to gauge whether a child should be promoted to class one or not. The question arises as to how useful these language tests are after a recent study revealed that many preschool children speak poor German.
Now a study has been undertaken by the Mercator Institute for German language to investigate and determine any inaccuracies found in these language tests. This survey shows that there are 21 different tests done nationwide which are different in quality with some tests being only slightly similar. These mandatory tests were introduced in 2008 aimed at determining how well four year old children speak German with the goal of offering intensive language training to children with deficits before they proceeded to primary school.
However, these language tests have confirmed the fundamental issues in the education system. At time the results show that 10% the children need intensive assistance to improve their language skills. While other tests show that it is indeed 50% of the children in need of intensive remedial assistance.
For this reason the experts agreed that the chances of a child proceeding to class one should not depend on the state in which it resides.
Due to these differences researchers did not rank their study of which areas have the best test. Instead they discussed about the quality of these tests and only eight of the tests met more than half of a total of 32 criteria developed by this expert committee. The tests in Mecklenburg –Vorpommern “DESK 3-6 ” and ” KiSS ” in Hessen both fulfilled 25 out of the 32 quality criteria. In Bavaria the “GSL test” had only 6 of the binding criteria and in North Rhine –Westphalia “Dolphin 4” test covered only 13 criteria.
The study criticises the fact that many tests aren’t based on the daily life of little children. If these tests are not aligned to the world of children they get scared and remain silent making it hard to make conclusive report on the language level. Depending on the state fluctuating between 10% and 50% percent implies that the actual needs will not be determined objectively and therefore are not comparable.
In addition, the results suggest that two-thirds of the tests do not sufficiently take into account whether the children grow up multilingual. The ideal situation would be to determine the language levels in both the primary and the secondary language. Only two federal states have incorporated a multilingual background of the children in the diagnosis: the “Havas” test in Schleswig –Holstein and “Cito” language test in Lower Saxony are available in the German – Turkish combination.
The Mercator Institute assumes that each year tens of thousands of children are misdiagnosed and do not receive intensive language training that they need.
It was recommended that the federal states would have to agree on a uniform methods of identifying children who need intensive language training. In addition all children should be tested and observed for at least five to six years so to check on the accuracy of this language evaluation method.