Standards of Learning
Board of Education
Commonwealth of Virginia
Standards of Learning
Adopted in February 2007 by the Board of Education
Mark E. Emblidge, President
Ella P. Ward, Vice President
Thomas M. Brewster
Isis M. Castro
David L. Johnson
Gary L. Jones
Kelvin L. Moore
Andrew J. Rotherham
Eleanor B. Saslaw
Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday
Commonwealth of Virginia
Board of Education
Post Office Box 2120 Richmond, VA 23218-2120
? February 2007
The Standards of Learning in this publication represent a major development in public education in Virginia. Adopted in February 2007 by the Virginia Board of Education, these standards emphasize the importance of foreign language instruction in the Commonwealth and, therefore, are an important part of Virginia’s efforts to provide challenging educational programs in the public schools and to enhance the preparation of Virginia’s students to compete in a rapidly expanding global society. Knowledge and skills
that students acquire in their foreign language classes will reinforce and expand their learning in other subject areas, enable them to interact effectively with others, and give them increased access to information across the world.
Reflecting a review of the previous standards adopted in June 2000, the Foreign Language Standards of Learning were developed through a series of public hearings and the efforts of many classroom teachers, curriculum specialists, administrators, and college faculty. These persons assisted the Department of Education in developing and reviewing the draft documents.
Copies of the Foreign Language Standards of Learning have been distributed to public schools throughout Virginia for school divisions and teachers to use in developing curricula and lesson plans to support the standards. These standards state the end-of-course requirements in levels I through IV of French, German, Spanish, and Latin. The standards for level IV focus on refinement of language skills and may be applied to levels V, VI, and above by adjusting specific course content. There are also generic Modern Foreign Language Standards of Learning, levels I through IV, that may be adapted to other modern languages, including non-Roman-alphabet languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian.
The Standards of Learning set reasonable targets and expectations for what students should know and be able to do by the end of each language course offered for a standard unit of credit. Schools are encouraged to go beyond the prescribed standards to enrich the curriculum to meet the needs of all students. However, in order for students to become proficient in other languages, they must have opportunities for longer sequences of language study; therefore, school divisions are encouraged to offer foreign language instruction beginning in the elementary grades. The standards set clear, concise, and measurable academic expectations for young people. Parents are encouraged to work with their children to help them achieve the standards.
A major objective of Virginia’s educational agenda is to give its citizens a program of public education
that is among the best in the nation and that meets the needs of all young people in the Commonwealth. These Standards of Learning continue the process for achieving that objective.
Foreign Language Standards of Learning
The Foreign Language Standards of Learning identify essential content, processes, and skills for each level of language learning in Virginia’s secondary schools. Included are specific standards for levels I
through IV of French, German, Spanish, and Latin, as well as generic standards adaptable for levels I through IV of other modern languages, including non-Roman-alphabet languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. The standards for level IV focus on refinement of language skills and may be applied to levels V, VI, and above by adjusting specific course content. In addition, a curriculum framework for American Sign Language has been developed for levels I through III and is published in a separate document.
Each level of the modern language standards is organized into seven content strands and contains a total of 10 to 12 standards that outline the knowledge, skills, and processes essential for language learning. Each level of the Latin standards is organized into six content strands and contains a total of seven or eight standards that focus on interpretation of text. Each standard is followed by two or more essential components of the standard. Examples following the phrase such as in some of the components are
suggestions offered to clarify the intent of the standard and are not requirements.
The emphasis on communication and interpretation ensures that students completing long-term, sequential foreign language programs in Virginia’s secondary schools will be able to interact, within
reasonable limits, with users of the language and understand their culture. The level of proficiency reached depends largely on the amount of contact with the target language; therefore, school divisions are encouraged to offer foreign language instruction beginning in the elementary schools. However, the ability to communicate comfortably with native speakers of the language about most topics is not obtained solely through classroom study. Students should be encouraged to pursue opportunities beyond the normal classroom setting, including long-term contact with, or immersion in, the target language and culture(s), such as participation in the Virginia Governor’s Foreign Language Academies.
The standards are intended to provide a framework from which school divisions may develop local curricula based on the needs of their students and community. The standards do not comprise the curriculum for a given course or prescribe how the content should be taught. The concepts and structures for each level should be presented in a spiraling fashion that allows them to be reintroduced with increasing complexity at various stages of language development. In addition, local assessments designed to measure students’ ability to use the target language should be aligned to local curricula and state
Several terms that have particular significance within foreign language education are used throughout the document. Reference is frequently made to “culturally authentic materials,” which are materials that have
been created for and by native speakers of the language and that have been derived from the culture itself. In addition, because language courses are sequential, reference is made to “level-appropriate” linguistic
elements, skills, or instructional materials. “