North Carolina: Pamlico schools defining foreign language options for students from abroad

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Sep 4 16:29:10 UTC 2008

Pamlico schools defining foreign language options for students from abroad

September 3, 2008 - 7:22PM

Matt Tessnear
Sun Journal

Pamlico County school officials are discussing ways students from
other countries can meet state foreign language requirements, in an
effort to better accommodate people who did not grow up speaking
English. The state requires all students to earn two credits of the
same foreign language to graduate. Last year, two Arabic students in
Pamlico County were enrolled in a Spanish class to meet the
requirement. But they already knew how to speak Spanish and needed to
better learn English, said George Robinson, chairman of the Board of

"The idea here is that a kid in ESL (English as a Second Language)
class can receive credit for foreign language and spend more time
working on English skills," Robinson said. "If the Arabic child passes
a test, he can move on to something more useful." Cathy Dunbar, the
assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, presented
foreign language compliance options Tuesday night to the board. To
meet the state and system graduation requirement, Dunbar said a
student may:

n Take two foreign language classes, as usual. This has been the
previous policy in Pamlico County.

n Present a transcript from another country that shows credit was earned.

n Take a standardized test, somewhat like the SAT, to determine
proficiency in a language.

n Take a test at a college or university to earn high school, and
possibly college, credit for foreign language.

Dunbar said a Spanish-speaking student recently asked her why he
needed to take a Spanish class to graduate when he already knew how to
speak the language.

"We thought it was a good point to consider," Dunbar said. It was
almost like requiring an English-speaking student to pass an English
language class to graduate, she said.

In Craven County, principals decide how a student earns credit for
foreign languages, said Annette Brown, the assistant superintendent
for instruction and accountability.

"It's never arisen as a problem, because they must be taking care of
it," Brown said. "I don't think there's a specific policy to address
it. We will be discussing this as a future process."

If a student in Pamlico County chooses another proficiency option and
does not take and pass a foreign language class, he or she will not
receive a credit that counts toward the 28 required to graduate,
Dunbar said.

The board may approve the policy changes at its October meeting.

State-defined graduation requirements

 Students must take two credits of the same foreign language if
enrolled in a college preparatory course of study or demonstrate
proficiency in a language as determined by the school system. This
became part of state policy for the Class of 2004.
 English as a Second Language does not count toward the foreign
language requirement.
 American Sign Language does meet the requirement.
 Students whose native language is not English still need two foreign
language credits or must demonstrate proficiency in a language. People
who speak a language other than English may enroll in a class to study
their own language.
Source: The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction

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