World language will, eventually, become part of the state’s new accountability system. But for now the Kentucky Board of Education has decided to put off its implementation for two years.
Program reviews were created and implemented this year and will be used the following year to assess how certain subjects and content are being taught throughout Kentucky. But lawmakers say foreign language shouldn’t be considered among core content and some superintendents say it’ll be difficult to implement language programs at a time with so many changing assessments. The board says learning another language will be important in the near future and starting early is best.
“Basically what the board is saying, if we’re really going to be focused on 21st century learning and we’re really going to have our students prepare to compete in a global society, they need to be fluent in another language,” said Starr Lewis, school and district liaison for the University of Louisville’s College of Education.
Lewis attended the board’s meeting and said there were compelling arguments for both sides. At one point a girl spoke to the board in Spanish and then translated her testimony in English, said Lewis.
The board says it’ll now wait for the 2014-2015 school year for schools to be assessed on how they teach foreign language, at which point all classes beginning in kindergarten, will start teaching language in some capacity.
Some public schools already have foreign language programs in place and there are several ways to teach language to students, said Thomas Sauer who is on Kentucky’s world language program review committee. Sauer is also the world language specialist with Jefferson County Public Schools.
“A program doesn’t necessarily mean having a teacher in the classroom,” Sauer said. “It could mean lots of things. Could be a video, could be taking advantage of a social networking sites. There are lots of social networking programs where students can connect with other speakers of the language to learn the language,” he said.
If the state’s program review is based on students’ proficiency, these alternatives should satisfy the requirement, he said.