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World Language Competency Testing for Grades 7 - 12

  • Do you speak a language other than English in your home?
  • Can you speak, read, and write in a language that is not offered at Bainbridge High School?


If you answered YES to one or both questions above, you may be eligible to earn high school World Language credit by taking a Competency Exam.


BISD will offer the exam on ONE DATE during the school year. Please read through the information below carefully and mark your calendar if you would like to take the exam.  

Student Eligibility

Students in the Bainbridge Island School District are eligible to take the competency exam at the end of 8th grade or anytime during high school. The world language competency exams are most appropriate for older adolescents, as they are also used by businesses, government and the military for job placement.  We do NOT use the competency exam for language class placement in the Bainbridge Island School District.

For the 2023-2024 school year, the exam is FREE for all enrolled BISD students in grades 8-12 that wish to take it. You may take the exam TWICE at the cost of the district (ie. if you speak two languages other than English, we will pay for two exams in total OR if you take it in 9th grade and want to retake in 11th grade to try and earn a higher score).

Please read important information below about the process for “Awarding of Credit” BEFORE you sign up for the exam. Note that students CAN NOT earn duplicate credit.

Awarding of Credit

  • All approved Competency-based World Language Credits will be posted to the Bainbridge Island School District transcript as credit earned without letter grades.

  • The approved Competency-based World Language Credits cannot replace an unsatisfactory (D/F) grade posted on the BISD transcript for an equivalent course. It will be posted in a separate area of the BISD transcript.

  • Students cannot earn duplicate credits for classes already taken. For example, if a student took Spanish I and II in seat-based classes AND the student takes the competency exam to earn a score of Novice Mid or Novice High, the student will NOT earn competency credit. Please see chart below for information about credits for proficiency levels.

  • After students have received Competency-based World Language Credits for a certain level of a language, they may not take an equivalent or a lower level class in that same language. They must take a higher level of the same language OR another language.

  • Competency-based World Language Credits may be used to meet World Language graduation requirements.

  • Students who receive 4.0 credits of world language (in the same language) through the competency credit path OR through seat-based classes will be eligible to earn the Seal of Biliteracy upon graduation from BISD.


Wondering how many high school credits you might be able to earn?

Can you do the following in a language other than English?

  • understand ideas on familiar topics expressed through phrases, short sentences, and frequently used expressions. [Listening]

  • understand the main idea and some details in simple texts that contain familiar vocabulary. [Reading]

  • exchange information with another person about familiar tasks, topics and activities. [Person-to-Person Communication]

  • use a series of phrases and sentences to provide basic information about familiar topics.    [Spoken Production]

  • write simple descriptions and short messages/requests or provide information on familiar topics. [Writing]


If you can answer all of the statements above with:

  • Yes, I can do this fairly easily in a language other than English 
    • Then you will probably earn at least 1-2 high school credits by taking the proficiency exam
  • Yes, I can do this very easily in a language other than English,
    • Then you will probably earn at least 3-4 high school credits by taking the proficiency exam

Calculation of Credits

Awarded credits are calculated based on the highest proficiency level across the skills of reading, writing, and speaking. The student must demonstrate proficiency in all the skills to earn the credits. For the ALTA test, the reading/writing are bundled together as is the speaking/listening. To meet these requirements, we use the lowest proficiency level to calculate the scores, not an average or sum.  See chart below.


Lowest STAMP scoreLowest ILRLowest Proficiency LevelCredits
10Novice Low0
2-Novice Mid1
30+Novice High2
41Intermediate Low3
5-Intermediate Mid4
61+ or higherIntermediate High or Higher4


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