May 1, 2013

Article: Foreign Language Grad Requirements Lag in Colorado


Foreign language grad requirements lag in Colorado
by Julie Poppen
April 29, 2013

Foreign language study is entrenched in the culture of DCIS-Montbello, a turnaround school in Far Northeast Denver. But this scene remains an anomaly in many Colorado schools. Even as other states and school districts put a growing premium on K-12 students learning languages other than English to make them more employable, few Colorado districts require foreign language for graduation.

Two separate processes are now underway that could influence the emphasis placed on world languages in Colorado. First, state K-12 officials are in the process of refining graduation guidelines that are expected to be approved in May, though districts would not be required to adopt them. Higher education leaders, meanwhile, are in the midst of tweaking college admissions requirements, which are expected to be vigorously debated in the fall.

About 19 states have some kind of language requirement for high school graduation. Some states have a straight-up requirement for all students, such as New York’s one-year language requirement for students to earn a standard diploma. Other states offer tiered diplomas — meaning the higher-level academic diploma may require learning a language, while another diploma — aimed more at workforce readiness — may not.

In Colorado, by contrast, world language offerings and instruction vary from district to district and school to school.

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