Sarah Shackelford, Advocacy Chair
Under legislative directive, the State Board of Education convened a special committee this past summer to consider revisions to the current high school graduation requirements. The ODE world language consultants alerted OFLA leadership in the event the organization wanted to participate in this discussion since it afforded a unique opportunity to reacquaint the committee members with the recommendations of the 2007 Foreign Language Advisory Committee’s report that was developed under the auspices of A.S. Senate Bill 311. The momentum generated by this report fell quickly by the wayside when the economy began turning sour, but timing has become better now to highlight the need for linguistically proficient and culturally adept graduates, given the increasingly global nature of world economy and society in general and the role of language proficiency in the preparation of students for participation in 21st century society and the global economy. Richard Emch and I were able to attend the August 13 meeting of the committee and briefly addressed its members by recapping the recommendations of the FLAP report and mentioning that a proficiency-based graduation would be ideal, though we acknowledge the current impracticality of the idea given the lack of resources and teachers. We promoted the idea of one day offering a Seal of Biliteracy to students who can demonstrate high levels of proficiency in English and another language. At the time of this writing, we are waiting to hear if the State Board of Education is interested in pursuing this. States that currently have biliteracy seals include CA, NY and IL.
To get a sense of how a biliteracy seal might promote and enhance world language education in our state, here is a link to the logistics of the Seal of Biliteracy for Illinois : http://madameshackelford.wikispaces.com/Biliteracy+Seal
A recent news blurb on this topic : Biliteracy Would Get Federal Boost in Proposed Legislation : http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/learning-the-language/2013/07/biliteracy_would_get_federal_b.html
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