Seymour to offer language certificates


Seymour High School students who speak more than one language now have the opportunity to earn a special certificate from the state when they graduate.

The Indiana Department of Education’s new Certificate of Multilingual Proficiency is available to those students who attain a high level of proficiency in a world language that is sufficient for meaningful use in college and career paths.

Diane Altemeyer, director of federal programs for Seymour Community School Corp., presented information to school board trustees last month about the certificate.

“As our students enter a global workforce, this certificate will serve as validation of their language skills and make them marketable to employers,” Altemeyer said.

The certificate can be earned by English-speaking students who become proficient in other languages, including French, German, Latin and Spanish, which are taught at the school or by students who are learning English, but speak another language, such as Spanish or Japanese.

“We have the ability to assess all the languages currently represented in Seymour Schools including American Sign Language,” Altemeyer said.

To earn the certificate, students must have eight credits of English language arts, pass the graduation qualifying exam for English language arts and the world language exam and have six credits of a single world language.

Students who already are proficient in a world language and pass the exam can automatically earn six high school credits.

The exam measures a student’s listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities in the selected language to demonstrate they are “fluent,” Altemeyer said.

“This certificate will help employers identify that this truly is a student that is able to use the language in a variety of contexts,” she added.

For students going to college, the state is in negotiations with colleges and universities to award college credits or advanced placement to students who earn the certificate.

Altemeyer is working with school administrators, counselors and teachers to identify and recruit Seymour students who would make good candidates for the certificate and who agree to participate.

The certificate is just an option and is not required, so participation is completely voluntary, she said.

Because the state does not fund the world language exam, the cost of taking it would be up to the student. But Altemeyer said she hopes that changes.

“The state does not intend to fund the assessment; rather they view it as another tool to help students as they enter life beyond high school,” she said. “We are looking at options for funding, particularly for students who already qualify for assistance through free or reduced meals and textbook rental.”

The exam’s cost depends on the language, but typically are $25 to $30 each. Students will take the exams during the first part of the second semester to allow time for retests.

“My hope is that we can publicly acknowledge students who earn the certificate at our senior awards program, through social media and other methods we use to recognize students,” she said.

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