Students Revel in New World Language Credit Opportunities

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Yohana Maaza

The new credit-by-exam option means more opportunities to explore other courses for this T.C. sophomore who speaks four languages and is studying French.

Eritrea native Yohana Maaza arrived at T.C. by way of India and Dubai and she picked up a few languages along the way. In addition to being fluent in English, she also speaks Tigrigna — her native tongue — along with Hindi and Urdu. And, in order to fulfill the world language graduation requirement, she’s also studying French.

This fall, Yohana will be one of the first students at T.C. Williams to put her language talents towards her graduation credits via the new world language credit-by-exam option being introduced this fall.

If I didn’t have to take a language, I would have more space to try out more classes and figure out what I want to do after high school and what I want to study in college. When I came here, there were many classes that I had taken that I did not get credit for. It makes me feel good that I can get credit for something I already know. And I can take other classes instead to help me figure out what I want to do after high school and college,” said Yohana.

Yohana is thinking about becoming a lawyer, but is also curious about psychology. Ultimately, she plans to select a career that will provide her with the financial resources she needs to take care of herself, and also help provide resources to meet the basic needs of those who are under-served, particularly as relates to healthy food options.

Eder Lemus - class of 2019

This T.C. senior suggests that students who are able to take the credit-by-exam do so in order to open up space in their schedules or take higher level language classes.

Although he was an upperclassman in his home country of Honduras, senior Eder Lemus was enrolled in T.C. as a ninth-grader due to his limited English language abilities. With the new world language credit-by-exam option, his native Spanish-language abilities are an asset.

Students like me who enroll in high school from a different country often have to start at a lower level or repeat classes we’ve already taken in our home country. Sometimes we don’t do well in classes because we are repeating classes we already know, get bored and don’t try as hard. If you earn language credits through credit-by-exam and don’t have to take those classes, you can take higher level classes instead, like AP Spanish or other classes,” said Eder.

Eder originally intended to study medicine after high school, but learned that his skills were better used in another field after taking health and medical sciences in tenth grade. Eder is deeply immersed in JROTC — army, as he and his friends call it — a T.C. experience that he treasures, and is looking towards a career in the military once he graduates.

New World Language Credit-by-Exam Option

ACPS now has a tremendous opportunity for students who are fluent in languages other than English. Students in grades six through 12 with the ability to comprehend and communicate in languages other than English now have the opportunity to earn up to three high school credits for world languages as the result of a new School Board policy and regulation adopted last spring. Our students hail from 118 different countries and speak 120 different languages. This is a true gift to our schools and our community and one that gives our students the invaluable experience of being part of a global community within their own school division.

And now, students who are fluent in languages other than English have the opportunity to earn high school credits towards the world languages requirement (see the Program of Studies (PDF)) and towards the Virginia Diploma Seal of Biliteracy.

What This Means for Students

  • Students in grades 6-12 are eligible to take a credit-by-exam assessment if they can read, write, speak and listen in the language of the exam being tested. Assessments are available in over 100 languages, including American Sign Language.
  • Students who are able to complete all work independently at the novice-high proficiency level or higher level on a division-approved national or international assessment can earn up to three high school credits.
  • The credits earned would go towards meeting the Virginia Department of Education world language requirements for the advanced diploma and would also provide students the opportunity to meet the world language requirement for the highly regarded Virginia Diploma Seal of Biliteracy.

Initial Assessment Free to Students

  • The first assessment taken is free to ACPS students and is covered by ACPS. Students may retake an assessment as many times as they choose, however, ACPS only pays for the first time.

Assessments Offered This November

ACPS offers credit-by-exam assessments once per school year in the fall. Spring testing will be available for seniors needing world language credits to graduate. The World Language Credit-by-Exam assessments will be administered on November 6, 2018, at T.C. Williams High School for most students. Get details and learn about exceptions on the ACPS website.

Register for Assessment Today

Interested students can register online for the exam today through October 12, 2018. Results of the assessments will be mailed to families as they become available but no later than the end of January 2019.

Where Can I Learn More?

Read the full list of frequently asked questions and access the self-assessment grid (PDF) and overview of all available proficiency levels (PDF).

Read the School Board policy and regulation School Board Policy IKFD: Alternative Paths to Attaining Standard Units of Credit; Credit-by-Exam for World Languages (PDF) and School Board Regulation IKFD-R: Credit-by-Exam for World Languages Regulations (PDF).


Please contact World Language Instructional Specialist Tanja Mayer-Harding at

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