Around the State

Ryan Wertz

Ryan Wertz and Kathy Shelton
World Language Consultants, Ohio Department of Education

ODE/OFLA Summer Series of Virtual Meetups: “Let’s Get Ready for Fall”

The Ohio Department of Education collaborated with the Ohio Foreign Language Association from June 23 through August 5 to bring Ohio language educators a total of 15 professional learning opportunities to help prepare for the evolution to remote and hybrid learning this fall.  Almost 2000 educators took part in the series.  All materials, video recordings and transcripts of chatbox conversations can be found here. We will continue virtual meetups again beginning in October, once teachers have had a chance to settle into the new way of teaching.

The department also hosted a three-day learning series for all content areas, titled “Teaching in Times of Uncertainty”, which provided additional opportunities for professional learning for general education as well as world language-specific topics.

ODE’s COVID-19 Resource Center for Distance Lesson Planning and Virtual Meetups

The department continues to update its COVID-19 Resource Center for Ohio world language educators as new resources are vetted and additional virtual meetups are scheduled. If you haven’t visited our extensive lists of resources yet – or if you haven’t been back in a while, we invite you to visit the website for assistance with lesson creation, language- and level-specific resources, information about upcoming virtual meetups and notes from past meetups.  We are grateful to all who have sent us resources for vetting and inclusion on this webpage.

Ohio’s Newly Revised Learning Standards for World Languages and Cultures

On March 10, 2020, the State Board of Education unanimously adopted Ohio’s Learning Standards for World Languages and Cultures.  These world-class standards are aligned with ACTFL’s national World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages (2015), the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (2012) and the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements (2017). The addition of “Cultures” to the name reflects the essential role that intercultural communicative competence plays in one’s native culture as well as in successfully navigating other cultures. The addition of a literacy strand guides the building of literacy skills in the target language as it follows the blueprint for literacy development in one’s native language. These standards officially will go into effect during the 2021-2022 school year, but teachers may begin using them immediately.

World language and culture educators can choose from a variety of configurations of the revised standards to best fit their learning context and students. The revised standards align to proficiency levels for Novice Low through Advanced Low learners. They also include progress indicators, which serve as optional examples of what learning might look like for modern languages, classical languages, American Sign Language, and elementary or immersion programs. They are intended to help guide schools and districts in implementing high-quality, communicative language programs that are proficiency-based. The design and scope of the new learning standards will ensure that more K-12 language learners obtain the higher levels of language proficiency that are required for success in college and in one’s career in today’s global society. They will also ensure that language educators at all levels have the blueprint they need to guide proficiency-oriented language acquisition and intercultural competence growth for their learners. Over the coming months, ODE consultants will provide opportunities to educators to become familiar with the new standards through virtual trainings and also through in-person workshops and conference sessions as soon as those options become safe again. Go to the World Languages and Cultures webpage to access Ohio’s new Learning Standards for World Languages and Cultures.

Model Curriculum Update

Currently, the Ohio Department of Education is undertaking an update of Ohio’s Model Curriculum for World Languages and Cultures, a tool designed to help language teachers implement the learning standards, which was last approved by the State Board of Education in June 2014. Our model curriculum writing team, made up of approximately 40 Ohio world language teachers, has been hard at work revising the current documents and creating new resources and sample units to share with our Ohio educators. Here is a very tentative timeline of the steps remaining to complete this revisionary work:

Summer to Early Winter 2020: Collaborate with working group to draft initial updates.
Winter 2021: Post public survey to gather stakeholder feedback on draft model curriculum.
Late Winter 2021: Analyze stakeholder feedback and incorporate suggestions into draft.
Spring 2021: Initiate State Board of Education process to approve updated model curriculum.

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements

The NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements for Communication and the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements for Intercultural Communication are essential resources for today’s world language educators. They can be found in Ohio’s World Languages Model Curriculum as well as on the and websites.

Holistic Performance Rubrics

The Department’s holistic performance rubrics also can be found in Ohio’s World Language Model Curriculum. These important resources are ideal for use with OTES-related assessments as well as semester and final exams and end-of-unit testing.

Ohio Seal of Biliteracy Updates

Ohio is one of 40 states and the District of Columbus to offer the prestigious Seal of Biliteracy award. Our state’s program is now in its fourth year of implementation, and recently the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy became one of 12 official graduation seals. A seal can be awarded to graduating high school seniors who have demonstrated high levels of proficiency in both English and at least one other world language. The Department has created many guidance resources to aid implementation of the program. They can be found easily on our Seal of Biliteracy webpage. The Department is grateful to all the schools and districts around the state that already have added Seal of Biliteracy programs. We encourage districts that have not yet implemented the program to consider making the award available to students in the near future.

Ohio’s Credit Flexibility Program

The Ohio Department of Education continues to provide guidance and oversight for Ohio’s Credit Flexibility Program.  Guidance on the Department’s website can be found by typing “credit flexibility guidance” in the search box on the ODE homepage. By law, local districts have been required to have a student-friendly credit flexibility policy in place since 2010. Such plans must describe ways that learners can earn high school credit in all subjects based on prior knowledge and demonstrated proficiency, and they must facilitate – not hinder, learners’ abilities to earn flexible credit. Learners may earn credit for measurable language proficiency gained through a variety of experiences including service learning, internships, study abroad, heritage acquisition of language, individualized study with a private tutor, online courses, etc. Credit earned in this manner must be recorded on students’ transcripts just like any other credit. Currently, the amount of credit that students are awarded based on their demonstrations of proficiency is determined at the local level based on ODE recommendations and local input. Information contained in Ohio’s Research-based Proficiency Targets is particularly helpful when making a credit determination.

OTES 2.0 Rollout

Due to the COVID-19 mandated school-building closures, districts have the discretion to determine their readiness to roll out the newly revised Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES) 2.0 for the 2020-2021 school year or delay for one year until 2021-2022. It is recommended that this decision be made in collaboration with teachers. ODE world language consultants will continue to help support teachers with requirements related to the implementation of OTES 2.0. Ohio law mandates that local boards of education, in consultation with their teachers, enact standards-based teacher effectiveness evaluation policies that conform to the ODE framework for the evaluation of teachers. The framework’s options continue to include a measurement of student academic growth.  For world languages and cultures, the growth of students’ overall language proficiency during the evaluative period as evidenced through periodic performance assessment in combination with other measures continues to be the focal point. Measuring students’ achievement on discrete elements of the target language, such as vocabulary, grammar, syntax and cultural factoids, is not an acceptable way to determine overall language proficiency growth. OTES 2.0 measures must be standards- and performance-based. ODE consultants continue to help build the capacity of language educators to develop appropriate performance-based assessments to measure student growth. Recommended growth measures include the use of Integrated Performance Assessments (IPAs) as well as use of the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements in conjunction with the collection of supporting evidence. For more information about the requirements of OTES 2.0, visit the Department’s Educator Evaluation Systems webpage.

Visiting International Teacher Programs

ODE continues to facilitate international teacher exchange programs with Ohio’s official partners: mainland China, France, Spain and Taiwan. Cross-cultural sharing, teacher shortages, immersion programming needs, sister school program development, project-based learning, teacher training and two-way exchanges are just some of the reasons school districts elect to participate in Ohio’s visiting international teacher programs. All the Department’s efforts in this area are designed to provide participating host institutions with options and their students with diverse learning experiences that will better prepare them for academic and professional success in the 21st century. ODE consultants work with host institutions to support their visiting international teachers in all aspects of their work in Ohio. During the 2019-2020 academic year, Ohio schools and districts hosted 20 visiting teachers from Spain and 8 guest teachers from mainland China. There were no visiting teachers from France or Taiwan during this period.  Due to recent government restrictions on international travelers, no new international teachers were brought in for the 2020-2021 school year; however, we still have many international teachers who are continuing their tenure in Ohio schools.

Ohio Language Immersion Highlights

ODE consultants continue to work with the Ohio Immersion Program Administrators’ Network to support the growth and further development of dual language immersion programs in the Buckeye State. The group is made up of the administrators and program coordinators from Ohio’s eleven dual language immersion programs. Ohio’s fourteen immersion schools are:

     1. Global Ambassadors Language Academy (GALA) – Cleveland
     2. Buhrer Dual Language Academy – Cleveland
     3. Luis Muñoz Marín Dual Language Academy – Cleveland
     4. Mansfield Spanish Immersion School – Mansfield
     5. Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy (C.S.I.A.) – Columbus
     6. Ecole Kenwood French Immersion School – Columbus
     7. Columbus Immersion Middle School – Columbus (opening for students in 2021)
     8. Bowman Primary School Immersion Program – Lebanon
     9. Donovan Elementary School Immersion program – Lebanon
     10. Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies (A.M.I.S.) – Cincinnati
     11. C.O. Harrison E.S. Immersion Program – Oak Hills/Cincinnati
     12. J.F. Dulles E.S. Immersion Program – Oak Hills/Cincinnati
     13. Oakdale E.S. Immersion Program – Oak Hills/Cincinnati
     14. Escuela SMART Academy – Toledo

Depending on the school, Ohio immersion students learn in Spanish, French and Mandarin Chinese. Three of the schools (C.S.I.A., A.M.I.S. and Mansfield Spanish Immersion School) have been designated with the prestigious title of International Spanish Academy by the government of Spain. This year the Lebanon City School District will continue the growth of its Spanish Immersion Program at Donovan Elementary School, which will become Ohio’s 12th dual language immersion school. Toledo’s SMART Bilingual Academy is also on track to implement a full-fledged immersion program in the future. Currently, ODE consultants are collaborating with various departments at The Ohio State University to plan Ohio’s very first Dual Language Summit, which will be held in December 2021 if health conditions allow.

Ongoing Advocacy Efforts

Department consultants continue to advocate strongly for ALL languages, with an emphasis on maintaining Ohio’s critically important language programs in Japanese, German and French while also encouraging schools and districts to consider offering students the option of learning at least one less commonly taught language including Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Portuguese and Russian. A call for long, articulated sequences of communicative language learning beginning in the earliest grades and continuing through graduation (and beyond!) continues to figure into every conversation we have with district and building teachers, administrators, curriculum directors, school board members, parents and other stakeholders. Currently, ODE consultants are collaborating with various departments at The Ohio State University to plan a language summit during December 2021 to provide district decision makers with the information they need to determine the feasibility of offering programs in Brazilian Portuguese in K-12 schools.

Recent Accomplishments

During the past year, ODE consultants:

  • Attended OFLA meetings and submitted status reports to the OFLA Executive Board;
  • Submitted Around the State articles to The Cardinal;
  • Advertised travel, study, professional development, staffing, and funding opportunities over OFLA’s Google Group and in the department’s World Language Updates, Tools for Teachers and EdConnection e-newsletters;
  • Supported Ohio’s visiting international educators and their host institutions with J-1 visa issuance, licensure assistance, professional development, and site visits; 
  • Represented Ohio at the national NCSSFL Annual Business Meeting and at the ACTFL Convention, presenting workshops and sessions at both;
  • Oversaw the continuing implementation and expansion of Ohio’s Seal of Biliteracy program;
  • Developed tools and resources while providing focused professional development opportunities for educators and district decision-makers around a wide range of topics, often in coordination with OFLA; and
  • Hosted groups of visiting international educators and administrators from all over the world during their visits to the Ohio Department of Education.

ODE Consultants’ OFLA-Related Goals for the Future

  1. Share relevant information about state and national education policy as it relates to world language learning in a timely manner to promote the continuing innovation and improvement of Ohio’s K-12 language programs.
  2. Collaborate with the OFLA on initiatives such supporting educators during the COVID-19 health crisis, expanding the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy Program, updating the Model Curriculum, training new visiting teacher cohorts and other activities that support high-quality language teaching on the part of Ohio’s world language educators and higher levels of language proficiency on the part of our state’s K-12 world language learners.
  3. Advocate for long, articulated sequences of communicative language learning in a wide variety of languages through proven program models beginning in the earliest grades and continuing through graduation and beyond.
  4. Work with the OFLA to support teachers’ efforts to quantify their students’ overall language proficiency growth for the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES).
  5. Work with Ohio’s postsecondary world language teacher preparation programs and language departments to ensure a steady supply of well-prepared teachers and a more seamless articulation of language learning from the earliest grades through university.
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