Proficiency Level for Bilingual and Dual Language Teachers

I have a question that’s kind of related to the topic of the emails below from a ncssfl string.

What proficiency target are states typically setting for teachers who will teach in Dual Language Immersion programs (i.e. not just standard World Language programs)?
I believe that Utah had set Advanced Mid for its Dual Language Endorsement. What about other states?


The Professional Educator Standards Board (PESB) here in WA, the state agency that sets or enforces requirements for teacher certification and preparation programs, has had a “Testing Barriers” Work Group meet the past few months to explore the issue of how testing (which was required under NCLB) has disproportionately impacted the ability to attract bilingual teachers and teachers of color into the teaching profession. The recommendations are being formulated now and will be presented to the PESB in May.

I could go into detail about the various kinds of tests involved, but here’s a quick overview:

• In Washington, all teachers have been required to pass a basic skills (Washington Educators Skills Test – Basic WEST-B) before entering a teacher preparation program. A lot of bilingual teachers and heritage language speakers have struggled to pass that one, esp. the Reading/Writing test – which is timed.

• The content knowledge tests (Washington Educators Skills Test – Endorsement WEST-E) are required before certification (and in the case of Alt Route Certification, teachers have to pass them before entering the program). The WEST-E tests for Elementary Ed have now been replaced by the NES tests, aligned to Common Core State Standards. These tests, too, cause difficulties for bilingual candidates and candidates of color. The tests are also expensive, esp. if you have to retake them multiple times.

• There is a WEST-E for ELL, a separate one for Bilingual Ed (which is basically like the ELL test, but also requires demonstrating language proficiency), and a separate one for World Languages (and, actually, a separate one for Latin). For World Languages, the test is actually more about language acquisition, language standards, etc. – so, it’s not really “content” that can be reasonably demonstrated without having completed a Methods course. So, all of our STARTALK Teacher programs in WA offer a World Languages Methods course, then we pay for testing (WEST-E) for interested candidates. We have not noticed candidates in that situation having much problem with the WEST-E for World Languages.

• For World Languages and Bilingual Ed Endorsements, candidates also have to pass the ACTFL WPT and OPI or OPIc. For World Languages, the target level is Advanced Low, but at the time that got set for World Languages, teacher educators in the Bilingual Ed field believed that Advanced Mid was the appropriate level for the Bilingual Ed Endorsement. However, it turns out that a lot of heritage language teacher candidates are just not reaching Advanced Mid. So, this has been a major barrier.

Now, in fact, very few teacher colleges were offering the Bilingual Ed Endorsement, so up until now, it’s not been much of an issue. However, the University of Washington has recently gotten funding from the US Dept of Ed to fund almost half the tuition for teacher candidates who complete the Master’s in Teaching (elementary) along with the Bilingual Ed Endorsement in Spanish. They will be placed in Dual Language Immersion programs for their internships and get extra support to be prepared to become elementary DLI teachers. So… this new program could become the de facto model in WA for DLI teacher preparation. Right now some of the teacher candidates are not able to pass the ACTFL assessments at the Advanced Mid level.

The PESB is working on a recommendation to align the target proficiency for both Bilingual Ed and World Language Endorsements to Advanced Low.

My question… is the field actually going the opposite direction, namely, looking for Advanced Mid for Dual Language Immersion teachers? If so, it might be short-sighted for the PESB to change the required proficiency for the Bilingual Ed Endorsement (which is the closest thing we have right now to a Dual Language Endorsement).

What are your thoughts? And who else should I contact?