AUSTIN, Minn. - The Austin Public School District is working to implement a program that will reward students who are proficient in at least two languages.
"We are in a world that is becoming more and more globalized. For kids, it's awesome just to have that skill to be able to speak more than one language," said Yenny Ahumada, a Spanish teacher at Austin High School.
It's called the Minnesota Bilingual and Multilingual Seals and World Proficiency Certificates.
"It's for students who demonstrate proficiency in more than one language," said John Alberts, Executive Director of Educational Services at Austin Public Schools.
Students who earn the seal or certificate can get free credits at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
"I think there's a couple different reasons why this is really important," Alberts said. "Number one, it is another credential that we can give to our graduates. But I think secondly, it demonstrates to our students that this is something the district feels is valuable and that is a valuable skill to have. And then finally, I think it demonstrates for some of our students who are immigrant students who are coming to us with a different language other than English as a native language that we think that holding and developing their native language is also as important as developing their English proficiency," he said.
In order to get a seal or certificate, students have to go through assessments to show they're proficient in at least two languages. A World Language Proficiency Certificate earns them 2 semesters of credits. A Gold Bilingual or Multilingual Seal gets 3 semesters per language. A Platinum Bilingual or Multilingual Seal gets 4 semesters per language.
The program will be presented to the Austin School Board at their next meeting on Monday, March 9th. If they approve it, district leaders are hoping to start offering it to the graduating class of 2020.