Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Making a case for the Global Education Achievement Certificate

In a rare consensus, Wisconsin leaders in business, government, and education, among others, agree on the necessity of preparing students to become globally competent citizens – that is, citizens who have the knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to live, work and interact in a diverse, interconnected world.
The Governor’s WITCO Task Force on International Education made that clear with its 1998 recommendations, as did the State Superintendent’s International Education Council in its 2005 report, Global Literacy for Wisconsin.

Increasingly, students are recognizing that acquiring global skills and knowledge can open doors to greater educational, career, and personal opportunities – and they want access to these pathways.
The recommendations include not only beefing up instruction in world languages and social studies, but also infusing global perspectives across the curriculum. After all, many of today’s challenges are international in nature, from health and environmental science to business and commerce, and our educational system needs to reflect this.

Educators, community and business leaders brought together at the April 2011 meeting of the Statewide International Education Council and at the Wisconsin Global Education Summit in February 2012, and high school students who attended the first Wisconsin Global Youth Summit in February 2013 called for doing more to foster the development of global citizenship across the state.

In response, State Superintendent Tony Evers this fall unveiled the Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate – the first statewide policy of this kind in the nation – to provide a framework for schools to begin translating years of recommendations into practice.

The Global Education Achievement Certificate enables graduating high school students to earn recognition for successfully completing a broad international curriculum and engaging in co‐curricular activities and experiences that foster the skills and knowledge that today’s marketplace values.

Under the policy, each district defines its own criteria for awarding the Global Scholars designation, within the guidelines. Mindful of the diversity among districts across the state, the policy provides flexibility, while maintaining sufficient rigor to ensure that the certificate has value.

Aware of today’s fiscal landscape for public education, the working group that shaped this policy sought to ensure that districts could implement the certificate program at little or no added expense.
As architects of the policy, we recognized that our schools already have many of the key curricular components for global education. We set out to provide a framework to tie these pieces together, while also encouraging schools to strengthen international content where possible and appropriate.

The co-curricular and service components of the certificate program are intended, in part, to encourage students and schools to identify and reach out to international resources within their communities and around the state. In addition to universities and colleges, these resources can include businesses with international connections, immigrants, cultural organizations, and individuals with international interests, experiences and expertise – such as returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

Many of us who are engaged in international education believe that Wisconsin already has significant capacity to advance the goals that have been repeatedly articulated, if only we connect these resources in a coherent framework. The Wisconsin Global Education Achievement Certificate policy aims to do just that.

Kerry G. Hill
President, Global Wisconsin, Inc.
Member, State Superintendent's International Education Council
Director of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of International Studies