DCCA, Carolinians Affairs, Indigenous Affairs sign memorandum of agreement for alternative certification program

OFFICIALS of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Indigenous Affairs Office and the Carolinian Affairs Office on Monday signed a memorandum of agreement to develop an alternative certification program for the Chamorro and Carolinian language teachers of the Public School System.

DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter, Indigenous Affairs Office Resident Executive Roman Tudela Jr. and Carolinian Affairs Office Executive Assistant John Tagabuel want PSS to consider a certification program for Chamorros and Carolinians who want to teach the local languages but have not met the requirements set by the Board of Education.

Since 2011, the number of local language teachers at public schools has decreased from about 60 to 34 due in part to the requirement that PSS instructors and teachers must pass Praxis I and Praxis II tests, and have 24 credit units from an accredited college.

An alternative certification program will ensure that instructors are adequately proficient in Chamorro or Carolinian and have the requisite skills to effectively teach Chamorro and Carolinian, the officials said.

The three agencies agreed:

• To work together to develop an alternative certification program for instructors of the Chamorro and Carolinian languages and to certify that the instructors are proficient and have the requisite skills to teach the Chamorro or Carolinian languages;

• To designate staff to develop the language exam materials and provide a process for officially and formally adopting the materials for the program;

• To determine the certification process, including the scoring of examinations and establishing of passing scores, that will lead to the issuance of certificates to the program participants; and

• To work on determining other necessary components to ensure that the program is successfully implemented.

The agencies believe that “it is in the public interest for their respective agencies to work collaboratively and cooperatively in a coordinated and organized effort to assist PSS to ensure that qualified and skilled Chamorro and Carolinian language instructors are available to teach the languages in PSS, and to…develop an alternative certification for instructors in either the Chamorro or Carolinian languages and provide other assistance for the promotion, preservation and protection of our indigenous languages,” the memorandum stated.

Indigenous Affairs Office program manager Cris Ogo said the agencies have already suggested an alternative certification program to the Board of Education.

“We talked with the board about the need to increase the number of Chamorro and Carolinian language teachers in schools. We also worked with PSS Chamorro and Carolinian Language and Heritage Studies director Jonas Barcinas and discussed what we are trying to do here to get the community involved. We realized that we are losing our language so want local language teachers to enter PSS.”

Tudela said an individual who has interest in teaching the local languages still has to pass the test to be created by his office, DCCA and the CAO.

“The language commission will set a standard for certifying that a teacher knows how to read and write Chamorro and Carolinian, but it is more of a proficiency test.”

Tagabuel said those who acquire temporary certification under the program will gain experience and training that should give them more confidence to take and pass the Praxis tests.

Hunter said the alternative certification program will address the shortage of Chamorro and Carolinian teachers. “There are a lot of people out there who have experience with the local languages and who are considered very knowledgeable about the languages and the culture. In order to address the shortage, there will be a simple test to qualify them as basic instructors.”

He described the program as a “win-win” solution. “This is one way to get interested people into education and teaching. We know that PSS is very good in developing the people they have.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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