The Maryland State Board of Education, recognizing that Maryland’s diverse student population has opportunities to develop language skills outside the classroom, has approved a model policy to award world languages credit for proficiency.
Local school systems may use the policy to develop policies and procedures to award credit toward high school graduation based on demonstrated proficiency.
"One of the most valuable skills immigrants bring to our country is their knowledge of foreign languages,” said State Sen. James Rosapepe. “Today, Maryland is taking the lead in helping immigrants and the children of immigrants keep their heritage language skills as they perfect their English. By awarding high school credit for language skills learned at home, in churches, temples, and mosques, as well as in private, community schools, Maryland hascreated incentives for even more students from immigrant families to become multilingual -- a huge economic benefit for our economy and our country."
Sen. Rosapepe, along with State Del. JoselinePena-Melnyk, spearheaded legislation that led to the Task Force for the Preservation of Heritage Language Skills in Maryland,established by the Maryland General Assembly in 2008. The Task Force investigated current language preservation efforts anddeveloped new strategies in preserving world language skills in our State. The legislation creating the Task Force recognized that “while it is important for new Americans to learn and master English, there is also a critical shortage of Americans proficient in languages other than English.” The bill recognized that Maryland’s heritage language speakers “comprise a valuable and vastly underutilized linguistic resource.”
One of the recommendations of the Task Force’s January 2009 Report to the Governor and General Assembly was to “support and promote the awarding of high school credit by exam for students who attend non-public heritage language schools in Maryland.”
Identifying an assessment for the awarding of credit by examination is often a challenge. To that end, MSDE convened a statewide validation and standard setting study with key stakeholders and world language experts to select the assessments and set the recommended proficiency levels equated to high school credit that are included in the model policy.
Producing internationally literate graduates – graduates who are culturally aware and proficient in languages other than English – is viewed as critical to U.S. security and to global collaboration and competition. The model policy enables students to further their study of languages and achieve advanced levels of proficiency.