Around the State

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

Thank You for a Job Done Extraordinarily Well during a Time of Great Adversity

The Ohio Department of Education would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of world language educators around the Buckeye State who have been working very hard to overcome tremendous challenges to provide their students with opportunities to continue learning and maintain their proficiency gains. Seemingly overnight, you have transformed yourselves from classroom teachers into blended learning facilitators, embracing new practices and technologies along the way with determination and grit. We are truly in awe of the amazing accomplishments you have made in just a short time, and when we proudly boast that Ohio has some of the best and the brightest our profession has to offer, we truly mean it! Thank you for your outstanding efforts in the face of tremendous uncertainty and challenge! Your students and their families are so very lucky to have you in their corner!

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 on an almost daily basis 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. The Department is currently analyzing stakeholder feedback about the current model curriculum which it received through a public survey administered to stakeholders in the early spring of 2020. At the same time, the Department is in the process of seating a model curriculum working group that will make revisions and add content based on the survey’s results. Here is a very tentative timeline of the steps needed to complete this revisionary work:

  • Spring 2020: Analyze public survey data & seat model curriculum working group.
  • 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 NCSSFL.org and ACTFL.org 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 39 states and the District of Columbus to offer the prestigious Seal of Biliteracy award. Our state’s program is now in its third 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.

ODE-Led Professional Development

During the 2019-2020 academic year, ODE world language consultants led a multitude of PD workshops and sessions regionally throughout Ohio and at state, regional and national conferences. A diversity of topics has been covered, including the standards, the model curriculum, research-based best practices in Second Language Acquisition, intercultural competence, planning for performance, backward design, the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy and performance-based assessment. In collaboration with OFLA, PD opportunities continue to be offered through the OFLA-ODE Virtual Meetups. Check the OFLA Meetup Calendar or the ODE Meetup Calendar for future offerings.

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 have 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.  

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 eleven 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. Bowman Primary School Immersion Program – Lebanon
  8. Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies (A.M.I.S.) – Cincinnati
  9. C.O. Harrison E.S. Immersion Program – Oak Hills/Cincinnati
  10. J.F. Dulles E.S. Immersion Program – Oak Hills/Cincinnati
  11. Oakdale E.S. Immersion Program – Oak Hills/Cincinnati

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. Next 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-fledge 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 on the OSU campus in December 2020 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 the winter of 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 Camp OFLA and other travel, study, professional development, staffing, and funding opportunities over the OFLA’s Google Group and in the department’s World Language Updates, Tools for Teachers and EdConnection e-newsletters;
  • Worked with schools and districts across the state to determine the need for visiting international teachers, screened potential host districts, recruited and screened visiting teacher candidates, and managed all aspects of Ohio’s visiting international teacher programs for 2019-20.
  • Provided a 14th cohort of visiting teachers from Spain and China with formal training on schooling, standards, classroom management, and grading and assessment, among other topics; 
  • 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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