Foreign Language Graduation Requirements

Foreign Language Requirements – High School

High School Graduation Requirement
In June 2000, the State Board of Education voted to change the high school graduation requirements to address the UNC System admission requirements. Ninth graders who enter high school for the first time in 2000-01 and who choose the College/University Prep Course of Study will need "two credits in the same second language or demonstration of proficiency in a language other than English as determined by the local educational agency".

In June 2007, the State Board of Education took action on two policies that affect high school graduation requirements.  The first is that middle school students in grades 6-8, beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, may earn high school credit for foreign language courses if the course meets the Standard Course of Study and clock time requirements (GCS-M-001).  The second change is that a Standard Course of Study for American Sign Language (ASL) was added to the North Carolina K-12 Second Language Standard Course of Study (HSP-F-009). 

Also, the North Carolina Graduation Project requirements allow a student to choose to do all or part of the project in a language other than English.  Chapter 3 of the Implementation Guide has a section dedicated to this aspect of the project, and includes information on using a second (foreign) language or a heritage (native) language.

Foreign Language Graduation Requirement & Frequently Asked Question

1. What is the requirement?
GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS (State Board of Education Policy GCS-N-004)
Two credits in the same second language or demonstration of proficiency in a language other than English as determined by the LEA

2. When did it become effective?
For high school graduation: Effective for ninth graders entering for the first time 2000-2001 and graduating in Spring 2004
For university admission: Fall 2004

3. Does Latin count as a language for the graduation and college admissions requirement?
Yes.  Latin standards (Level I-IV and AP) were approved by the SBE in December, 2003 and are now part of the North Carolina K-12 Second Language Standard Course of Study .

4. Does Spanish for Native Speakers count for the graduation and college admissions requirement?
Yes.  Spanish for Native Speaker standards (Level I & II) are part of the North Carolina K-12 Second Language Standard Course of Study

5. Does American Sign Language (ASL) count for the graduation and college admissions requirement?
Yes.  ASL standards (Level I & II) were approved by the SBE in May, 2007 and are now part of the North Carolina K-12 Second Language Standard Course of Study .

6. How does an ASL course appear on a student’s transcript?
The course code for ASL I is 1421/American Sign Language I and for ASL II is 1422/American Sign Language II.

7. Does ESL Language Arts count for the graduation and college admissions requirement?
No.

8. What about native speakers of languages other than English?
Under the present SBE policy, native speakers of the language still need 2 units of foreign language or demonstration of proficiency as determined by the local education unit. Native speakers can be enrolled in their own language at any level depending on their placement in high school and meet the requirement. Districts should have a policy in place that determines how the LEA is going to determine proficiency of a foreign language. Policies from districts in North Carolina were first shared at a statewide foreign language coordinator meeting in 2003 and have since been updated.  Please see Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' policy or Wake County Public School System's policy as examples.

9. How does a district note the "demonstration of proficiency" on the student transcript via NC WISE?
When an LEA has determined that a student has demonstrated proficiency in a language other than English, it can be shown on the transcript in the following way:

  1. Create a second course number with no credit attached for a language other than English. Specify “P” as a final mark for the course. This will allow the demonstration of proficiency to show on the transcript.
  2. An override will need to be done to allow the issuance of the College/University Prep Course of Study diploma.

10. What kind of middle school courses can be taken to earn high school credit?
Any foreign language courses for high school credit that are offered in middle school must be aligned to the North Carolina K-12 Second Language Standard Course of Study for Grades 9-12 and consist of 150 clock hours of instruction in a traditional schedule or a minimum of 135 clock hours of instruction in a block schedule and be directed by a teacher.  To receive credit the student must pass the course.  Middle schools have flexibility to offer one level over two academic years, so that students receive 0.5 credit for Part I and 0.5 credit for Part II to receive the full credit.

11. Do exploratory courses earn high school credit?
No.  Current 6 or 9 week exploratory courses or semester courses that do not follow the high school level of the North Carolina K-12 Second Language Standard Course of Study or meet the minimum clock hours will not meet the requirements.

12. Do middle school course grades get computed as part of the student GPA?
No.  While the course(s) will count toward graduation requirements, the student GPA will be computed with courses taken during high school years.

13. How does a middle school course appear on a student’s transcript?
The course codes for middle school courses vary depending on how the course was offered.  Letters at the end of the course code indicate whether the course for credit was completed during one academic year or two, and details about this are given in Appendix A of the 2009-2010 Outline of the Course Coding Structure.

Foreign Language Requirements – UNC System
Students headed to University of North Carolina system campuses in the next decade will have to prove they're better prepared for college by taking more foreign language and advanced math in high school.

The UNC Board of Governors approved a proposal to raise the minimum requirements for admission at the 16 campuses. The plan requires all entering freshmen to have completed two years of a foreign language starting in 2004 and four years of math starting in 2006.

The previous admission standards, adopted in 1984 and fully implemented by 1990, required three years of math. Study of a foreign language was recommended but not required. The UNC proposal signals a shift in the standard curriculum for North Carolina high schools - with more students enrolled in foreign language and math beyond Algebra II.

Among the 16 campuses, students' level of proficiency varies widely. For example, 97 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill freshmen had two years of language and four years of math, compared with 52 percent of freshmen at UNC's five historically black campuses.

The UNC Board of Governor removed the suggestion that one of the two units be taken in the senior year. It just requires two units of a language other than English. Some colleges and universities are already giving preference to students with advanced levels (III and up) of foreign language study.