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Guidelines for Organizations Seeking Approval of Instructional Programs Offering World Languages Not Taught in Public School Districts

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Background:

In August 2001, legislation was passed into law that required the Department of Education to establish a World Languages Instruction Committee to develop a plan which would provide students in public schools the opportunity to receive instruction in and graduation credit for a world language not taught in the public school district. This legislation was initially conceptualized and proposed by Assemblyman Steve Corodemus of Monmouth County.

In compliance with this law, the department established a committee that has developed an implementation plan to be followed by districts upon the written request of a student and his/her parent to be granted graduation credit for a language program offered by an external organization. An external organization as defined by the World Languages Instruction Committee refers to a non-profit organization such as a church or community group. The committee has also developed procedures for external organizations to follow that are seeking approval of their world languages programs by public school districts. These procedures may be found below along with additional important information related to providing world language instruction to earn high school graduation credits.

Procedures to be followed by External Organizations 
 
A student and his/her parent must first make a request in writing to the high school principal to enroll in a language program offered by an external organization. The district will then notify the organization to:

  1. Submit a request in writing to the district to review its eligibility. This includes providing the necessary written documentation to support the request. The documentation should include: 
    • Information about the organization and the population it serves (template attached);
    • A copy of the world languages curriculum in English;  
    • Evidence of assessments used in the program to demonstrate increasing levels of student language proficiency in all skill areas; and
    • Credentials of teachers instructing in the program. This includes the type of certification the teacher(s) may possess (e.g., New Jersey, out-of-state, out-of-country).
  2. Note that upon receipt and review of written documentation to support the organization's request for approval, district staff may request an on-site visitation of the program to gather further data.

In order to obtain program approval, organizations should:

  • Review the world languages curriculum carefully to ensure it is aligned with the specific goals and objectives delineated in the 2004 version of the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards for World Languages (www.state.nj.us/njded/aps/cccs/wl). Note that the curriculum review will be conducted by a district administrator and/or a world languages specialist. 
  • Provide specific examples of ongoing assessments used in the program to show that there are ample opportunities for students to demonstrate increasing language proficiency in all skill areas in the program.

Upon completion of the program review, the school district will notify the organization in writing of program approval. Organizations may use official district approval letters and/or local School Board resolutions in subsequent communication with constituents about the program.
 
Summative Assessment of Student Proficiency

  • The current state proficiency level for world languages has been identified by the Department of Education as Novice-High according to descriptors found in the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ACTFL Performance Guidelines for K-12 Learners. These performance guidelines are available for purchase at www.actfl.org.
  • Districts may award 5-credits for attaining the Novice-Mid level of proficiency and 10-credits for attaining the Novice-High level of proficiency*. Should the student attain a higher proficiency level (i.e., in the Intermediate or Intermediate-High range), it is strongly recommended that additional credits be awarded by the district.
  • The committee has concluded that the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) would best serve for the summative assessment of students. spoken language ability for the awarding of credit because it is an internationally recognized measure for academic placement, student assessment, professional certification and hiring qualifications. Moreover, many of the languages that students would be studying outside of the public school district fall under the category of less commonly taught languages, and the OPI is available in many of these languages.
  • For assessment of students. writing skills, the committee has concluded that the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Written Proficiency Test (WPT) would be an excellent measure of written language ability.