Testing the Water

It’s that time of year! My juniors and seniors are logging in and taking the AAPPL exam from ACTFL.

In Spanish 3, EVERY student takes the reading and listening. Our Spanish Club pays the $5 fee for this by selling PopTarts in my room year round. With 60 kids, it is only $300 to cover this test for them. If they choose to take the rest of the test to try to qualify for awards, they pay $15. (We do offer financial assistance through the Spanish Club.

Students sit at the computers in our lab on Monday and I alternate them between reading and listening. On Tuesday they return to the same computer and take the opposite test. On WEDNESDAY, they have to make a choice… complete the test or no.

But… if you have students who choose NOT to test (either because they aren’t that invested or because they don’t feel confident in their proficiency), you need a plan for what to do with them. You don’t want them to spend Wed-Fri with idle hands. My solution was this… I created a MOCK AAPPL speaking and writing as an assessment in Schoology. On the day the kids speak for the AAPPL, the “non-testers” speak for me. I rate these based on where I think they would’ve scored on the AAPPL and they still get feedback about where they are on their proficiency path. On Thursday and Friday, while the testers are writing, the “non-testers” use a different Schoology assessment to write for me. The pros of this plan include: more kids choose to test because they know they’re not trading goof off time for the testing time and I get the chance to rate some of the kids myself and give them some positive feedback. It’s also great for reporting to our Dual Credit program when I have results for kids in all 4 skills.

In the past, I encouraged all seniors to retest as well. This year I thought I would see how it went offering them the option to retest or no. If they chose not to test at all, they read a chapter per day from Vidas impactantes and responded to prompts on a graphic organizer. If they chose to do two tests over, they read chapters only on the days they weren’t testing. The ones who retake the whole test do not have to read chapters at all.

Our test scores last year were pretty grim. The pandemic shutdown followed by a hybrid year of half days really showed through in their performance. I am hoping to see us creeping back up to our pre-pandemic score levels this year.

In IL we have the opportunity to offer 4 different levels of award. (No matter your state or school type, the Global Seal is open to you too.)

At Intermediate 1, our students can earn the State Commendation Toward Biliteracy. All students who score I1 in all skills receive this microcredential.

At Intermediate 4, they qualify for the Global Seal of Biliteracy and can earn a medal to wear at graduation.

At Intermediate 5, they qualify for the IL State Seal of Biliteracy and our Dual enrollment program is working on offering them 12 instead of 8 hours for their high school classes.

At Advanced 1 on all 4 skills, they qualify for the Global Seal of Biliteracy Working Fluency! This is HARD to earn, but also gets them a gold medal to wear at graduation!

Do you give seals of biliteracy in your district? How does it work for you?


  1. I have never heard of this. I’m the only certified foreign language teacher in my small district. I’m wondering how would I get my district to “sign on”? I think this could encourage more students to go further in their Spanish studies and have more motivation to do so.

    • Getting started: First check to see if your state has a seal of biliteracy and what the requirements are. In IL we DO have a program and it has two tiers. The Commendation and the Seal. We have to apply to offer the seal at the beginning of each school year and report back on the students who earned it each summer. We also have a few hoops to jump through like adding info about the seal to the school website and the testing info to students’ records.

      After you know more about your own state seal, check out theglobalseal.com to learn about the Global Seal of Biliteracy. This one is really easy to set up and report results for. The Global Seal is also given worldwide, so it will be meaningful no matter where your students plan to study.

      Once you have a plan for which “micro-credentials” you’re going to offer (your state seal, global seal), you need a plan for testing. The AP counts, the STAMP and AAPPL also count as nationally normed tests for offering the seal. You’ll test your students and submit the data. I find that this is great PR for our program. I actually have a wall of photos outside my room where we honor students for the credentials they’ve earned.

      Get the parents on board too. Let them know that you’re offering these awards because they A) look great on college and scholarship apps and B) are often accepted in lieu of CLEP testing at universities to place students in their language classes.

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