|Action||Comprehensive Revision of the Licensure Regulations for School Personnel|
|Comment Period||Ends 11/6/2015|
Impact on Immersion Programs
I am the K-12 World Languages Coordinator for Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) and President of the Virginia Foreign Language Supervisors Association (VFLSA). My opinions are my own and not necessarily those of VBCPS or VFLSA.
I am heartened to see the changes that are proposed, most especially the extension of the International Educators license from three to five years, and the additional flexibility in the Elementary Education endorsements (allowing more of the requirements to be met by passing rigorous content tests) and in the Foreign Language endorsement (removing the TOEFL requirement).
I would also like to ask the Board to consider additional flexibility, and perhaps a new endorsement area, for the growing and popular Immersion Language programs throughout the commonwealth. These programs, in which students learn for a large part of the day in a language other than English, may be called Immersion, Partial Immersion, or Dual Immersion depending on the amount of instructional time devoted to the language other than English, and the inclusion of English language learners. In VBCPS, we currently have a Spanish Partial Immersion elementary school program in a growing number of schools with plans to expand to Mandarin Chinese and one Spanish Partial Immersion middle school program. There are many native and near-native speakers who would like to teach, but are discouraged by the difficulties in obtaining an endorsement, particularly in Elementary Education. I recommend adding a new Immersion Education endorsement, with a requirement for advanced proficiency in a world language and targeted coursework to ensure quality immersion education. An Immersion Education endorsement would give a teacher highly qualified status to serve as a classroom teacher and would enable us to provide a more direct path to teaching for more candidates, especially those who are career switchers or who move here from Puerto Rico or other states. Utah, Rhode Island, and Illinois are among the states that have created a specific endorsement for bilingual or Dual Language education to respond to the growing demand for these effective programs. As our Partial Immersion Program is expanding to include more elementary schools and languages, a licensure path is critical to staffing and continued success.