CAL Presentation

State world language standards: Frameworks, revisions, and implications

March 20 – 23, 2021


Presented at: AAAL 2021 Virtual Conference
March 20 – 23, 2021

On-Demand Webinar

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Presenters: Mina Niu, Francesca Di Silvio, Jamie Morgan

Description: Since the 1980s, U.S. schools have moved to standards-based education across content areas, including world languages. Because world language education policies differ in each state, research is needed on how these standards frameworks, policies, and practices vary.

This paper presents results from a comparative analysis of state world language standards in 2019, one component of a research project to inform the revision of standards in Massachusetts. It examines when, how, and in what areas states have revised their standards since original publication and the extent to which states have adopted or adapted the ACTFL World-Readiness Standards (2015). The paper discusses other trends in updates to state standards, including terminology for languages other than English, references to 21st century skills and program models, and the addition of language-specific standards.

Data were collected from current and previous world language framework documents of 50 states and the District of Columbia. The standards revision process for 12 states was examined based on public sources supplemented by interviews with state world language specialists and directors. Findings indicate that current frameworks date from 1996 to 2020, standards in 26 states are highly aligned to the ACTFL Standards and identical for 4 states, and 40 states use the term “world language” to reflect the diverse and inclusive context of U.S. language learning. Revision processes showed key elements of an expert committee and solicitation of public feedback, and coding of framework documents revealed an emphasis on the Communication and Cultures goal areas and movement towards progress indicators organized by proficiency level instead of grade.

While other studies have examined state language standards, this paper offers a comprehensive overview of the world languages policies in all states and D.C. It provides valuable insights into trends in world language policy and planning with implications for curriculum design and assessment.