The State Board of Education (SBE) used Gates Foundation funding to convene a World Languages Advisory Group of world languages high school and college teachers. The Advisory Group advised the SBE about: 1) the level of competency (i.e., minimum level of language proficiency) students would need in order to earn competency-based credit; 2) the manner of assessment that would be appropriate; and 3) the skills (e.g., speaking, reading, writing, and/or listening) in which competency would be expected.
The SBE also conducted an assessment study to compare the proficiency of high school students with two years of language study to that of college students with two academic quarters of college study. Washington's data was then compared to national data. The study was not intended to be representative of all students but rather to give the Advisory Group data that could serve as a catalyst for discussion. The study found similarities between Washington and national data. For instance, writing scores were generally higher than speaking scores, and speaking scores were higher than reading scores. The Advisory Group used the data, as well as a review of selected other states?policies (Connecticut, New Jersey, and Utah), to recommend the proficiency levels needed in Washington state to award competency-based credit. In July 2010, SBE passed a resolution encouraging districts to implement the policy and utilize the practices necessary so that students may demonstrate world language proficiency.