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    With the new 2 world language credit requirement for high school graduation, we want to make sure that both middle and high schools are fully aware of the range of options for students to meet that requirement. In addition, we are hearing about many community college students who are not able to transfer to the 4-year colleges because they have not met the world language admissions requirement (2 credits of the same world language). Let’s make sure our SPS students graduate 4-year-college ready.

    Starting in Middle School

    Most Seattle middle schools offer one year of high school language across two years in middle school (e.g., Spanish 1A all year in 7th grade and Spanish 1B all year in 8th grade). These students can request to receive 1 high school credit once they arrive in high school by submitting the Credit and Grade Addition to High School Transcript Application Form to their high school counselor. The middle school course codes (“SWL”) are transformed into high school course codes (“HWL”), and, of course, the middle school grades are also included on the transcript.

    Some Seattle middle schools offer two years of high school language across three years in middle school (e.g., Spanish 1A all year in 6h grade, Spanish 1B all year in 7h grade, and Spanish 2A/2B in 8th grade). These students can request to receive 2 high school credits once they arrive in high school by submitting the Credit and Grade Addition to High School Transcript Application Form to their high school counselor. (We are encouraging middle schools to consider this option, if they can, since it will give the students more flexibility for meeting requirements in high school and a better chance of taking AP or IB language courses and qualifying for the State Seal of Biliteracy.)

    • Students who qualify for English Language Learner services or other students who have learned a language outside of school can participate in World Language Credit testing in spring of 8th grade and qualify for 1-4 high school Competency-Based Credits. A number of middle schools have started testing 8th grade students in the spring. The test results are shared with the high school they attend in the fall so that the high school credits can be added to their transcript. 
    • If a student studied a language in middle school but got a low grade, the student could do World Language Credit testing when they arrive in high school. If they qualify for credits, the credits are Pass (no grade). That would be better than posting a low grade on their high school transcript. If they can’t earn credits through testing, then they should consider taking level 1 again in high school or trying out a new language.
    • Some students who have completed two years of middle school language may feel that they could place higher than level 2 in high school. Those students can take the Avant Assessment PLACE test to see if they are recommended for placement into level 3 or 4 in high school. We have already piloted this process successfully for three years at Garfield. If high schools would like to offer incoming 9th graders the opportunity to take the PLACE test, it could help you reduce the number of spots needed in level 2 language classes and increase enrollment in upper level classes (levels 3, 4, AP/IB). We could arrange testing at the end of August so you have the information to make adjustments in schedules in September, as needed.

    On to High School

    • In high school, counselors should avoid waiting to place 9th and 10th graders in world language classes. It is best for them to start as soon as possible so that they can take as many years as possible in sequence. The older you are, the harder it is to experience learning a new language for the first time. In addition, if students wait until 11th grade and then go to Running Start, we lose their enrollment in our high school world language classes. That means we have many world language teachers on partial FTEs. That makes it impossible for us to sustain programs and keep good teachers in our district.
    • For School Planning: While student choice is important, young students often make arbitrary choices based on inadequate information (that language is easy, my friends are studying this language). If you have capacity to offer more spots in a language (for example, French or Latin or Japanese or Chinese), please encourage students to take those languages rather than continuing to add more spots in Spanish. There is a shortage of Spanish teachers nationally. We don’t want your students to have to be taught by long-term subs if you cannot fill positions.

    Dr. Thad Williams, International Education Administrator,