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What does proficiency mean?

Proficiency is defined as a person’s ability to understand and communicate in a language in a spontaneous and unrehearsed context in four modalities: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. There are five levels of proficiency, as defined in the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), ranging from novice to distinguished. Each level is further subdivided into three stages: low, mid, and high. The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines provide a description of what language learners can do with the language in the four modalities at each proficiency level, regardless of when, where, or how the language is acquired.

Additional information on proficiency is available on the left-menu under Proficiency.

How will the State of Minnesota recognize students’ proficiency achievement?

Students who achieve the intermediate low level of proficiency in the four modalities (listening, speaking, reading and writing) will earn a Minnesota World Language Proficiency Certificate, which will be noted on their transcript.

Students who achieve the intermediate high level of proficiency in the four modalities in one language will earn the Minnesota Bilingual Gold Seal on their high school transcript. Students who reach the intermediate high level of proficiency in the four modalities in two languages will earn the Minnesota Multilingual Gold Seal on their high school transcript.

Students who reach the advanced low level of proficiency in the four modalities in one language will earn the Minnesota Bilingual Platinum Seal on their high school diploma. Students who reach the advanced low level of proficiency in the four modalities in two languages will earn a notation on the Minnesota Multilingual Platinum Seal on their high school transcript.

How will students’ proficiency be assessed?

In District 196 students must be enrolled in grade 12 when being assessed for a seal.
The chart below shows which scores are needed on an ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency (AAPPL) and Avant STAndards-based Measurement of Proficiency (STAMP 4S) that correlates to the ACTFL levels needed for each level of recognition:

World Language Proficiency Assessment Chart

View a demo of the AAPPL Measure (students should choose Form B for the demo) and the STAMP.

How will students know if they are ready for a proficiency test? How do students decide what levels to take?

It takes a long time to develop proficiency in a language. The time it takes to reach each level varies from individual to individual. There are many different factors that play a role in developing language proficiency such as where, how, when, and why a person learns a language.

ACTFL has outlined who is likely to function at various oral proficiency levels in this chart.

If a student is a native speaker or proficient in a language other than English, can that student get a certificate or seal in his/her native language?

Yes, if:

  • The student satisfactorily completes all required English Language Arts credits (seal only)
  • The student demonstrates proficiency in another language through a language proficiency assessment approved by the Minnesota Department of Education (click here for a list of approved assessments)
  • The student is in grade 12
  • Language proficiency testing is available
  • Language proficiency testing is currently available for the languages of Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.
  • Opportunities to collaborate with area language schools and community experts are available to develop language proficiency assessments for languages in which no state-approved language proficiency assessment is available.

For additional information, please contact:
Amy Denneson.

Is there a cost for the assessment, the Certificate, or the Seal?

Currently, families are responsible for the cost of the assessments. AP Language & Culture assessments cost $65. The AAPPL Measure approximately $40. Payments can be submitted through Parent Vue/Fee Pay. Scholarships based on financial need may be available at the high school. There will be no additional charge to have a Seal noted in the high school transcript. STAMP costs approximately $25.

Are there other requirements for students?

In accordance with Minnesota Statute 120B.022, students must also “satisfactorily complete all required English Language Arts credits” to “demonstrate mastery of Minnesota’s English language proficiency standards” in order to receive a Seal (Intermediate High and Advanced Low levels).

What kind of documentation do students receive for the World Language Proficiency Certificate or the Bilingual/Multilingual Seal?

All students will receive a letter with the test results from District 196.

Students who earn the World Language Proficiency Certificate or the Bilingual/Multilingual Seal will have a notation entered on their transcript and will receive the Certificate or Seal created by the Minnesota Department of Education.

Can students receive college credit for their World Language Proficiency Certificate or Bilingual/Multilingual Seals?

Yes. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) award college credit for World Language Proficiency Certificates and Bilingual/Multilingual Seals, as stated in a report compiled in February 2015. Please see the chart below for the number of credit equivalencies:

World Language Awarded Credits

* Colleges outside the MnSCU system will use their own guidelines to evaluate a student’s language proficiency.

What is MnSCU?

MnSCU is the Minnesota statewide system of 31 colleges and universities. They are located in 47 communities offering over 5,400 educational programs statewide. For the list of MnSCU colleges and universities, please click here.
*Note: The University of Minnesota is not a MnSCU school. The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota has their own policies and protocol for awarding credit.

How can students receive college credit from a MnSCU college or university?

Minnesota legislation states that a student must be enrolled in a Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) institution and must request college credits for the seal or proficiency certificate within three academic years after graduating from high school. Students should consult with their advisor at a college. Students’ high school transcript will serve as a proof of their proficiency attainment.

Additional information from the Minnesota Department of Education is available in its FAQ document and its World Language web page.