In 1987, the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Education recognized American Sign Language as a complete and natural language. Since that time, the Minnesota Board of Teaching has sporadically addressed the topic of preparing and licensing teachers to teach ASL as a world language in the high schools. To date, our state has a license to teach ASL but does not have a program for preparing teachers to teach American Sign Language (ASL) as a world language. The teachers of ASL in our area high schools are typically teaching on a variance or a limited teaching license. Only a small number of teachers have obtained a full license to teach ASL as a world language by completing a rigorous portfolio review process. The Education Collaborative is interested in engaging the appropriate stakeholders to re-visit the processes needed to create a licensing course of study.
The Office of The Revisor of Statutes shows the current ASL teaching license requirements (external link) in the schools. Scroll down to sub-part 5 where the subject matter standards for teachers of American Sign Language and Deaf Culture with the requirements are listed. Currently, a candidate is responsible for finding opportunities and classes to meet these requirements. The candidate is also responsible for assembling a portfolio of artifacts showing that they have met all the licensing requirements. A review team from the Board of Teaching will grant the license if the portfolio meets the listed competency requirements. The current portfolio review process details can be found at: subd.2. Licensure via portfolio (external link) (*Side note: this section also includes information about the Auditory-Oral license to teach students who are hard of hearing and do not use ASL as their primary mode of communication. That information does not pertain to the world language portfolio review)
Frequently there is confusion about the different teaching licenses associated with the topics of deaf and hard of hearing. There are two licenses for teachers who serve children from birth through age 21. The Teachers for students who are deaf/hard of hearing are responsible for teaching academic content (reading, writing); and compensatory and advocacy skills. They are licensed as special educators who are responsible for teaching to the state educational standards and as specialists in the disability area of deaf/hard of hearing. One license is the Teacher D/HH. This candidate has completed an accredited university program and has met the competencies (including a passing score of Intermediate Plus on the Sign Language Proficiency Exam-SLPI) determined by the MN Board of Teaching. Teachers with this license can serve students who use the full spectrum of communication modes (auditory- oral, Signed English, ASL). The second license is the Auditory-Oral license. These candidates have also completed an accredited university program and have met the competencies determined by the MN Board of Teaching. Teachers with the A-O license can teach the exact content and compensatory skills areas as the Teacher D/HH; but they are not licensed to teach students who rely on ASL as their primary mode of instructional language.
The ASL World Language teacher is not responsible for teaching students who are deaf/hard of hearing. They do not have a license to teach Special Education. These are World Language teachers who teach the general student population the language and culture of the Deaf. They are licensed in second language acquisition (ex. Spanish, French, German language teachers).