World Language

The State Board of Education (SBE) has the authority to adopt academic standards for each subject area in grades K-12. The Board adopted the current world language standards in October 2017.

The Tennessee Academic Standards for World Language outline a vision based on performance level and describe what all students should know and be able to do at the end of each level regardless of the language being learned.

To underscore the importance of equipping students with the skills needed for real-world language acquisition and to emphasize increasing proficiency, the standards recognize that students are likely to have varying performance levels and incorporate opportunities for differentiation. This flexibility allows students to have functional, communicative, and intercultural experiences, rather than focusing only on language structure and cultural fact. The focus is no longer on what students know but on what they can do with what they know.

The Tennessee Academic Standards for World Languages are available for download here.

Note: The State Board of Education sets the requirements for high school graduation (see the High School Policy 2.103). Per SBE Rule, students must pass two high school level units of world language in order to graduate with a high school diploma. These units must be in the same language.


In 2017, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation (Pub. Ch. 270) recognizing American Sign Language (ASL) as a modern language which may fulfill the high school graduation requirement for world language credits. However, at this time, not all colleges and universities outside of Tennessee accept ASL for language units required for admission. Thus, Tennessee students who wish to study ASL to fulfill their high school language requirement should ensure that the postsecondary institution they wish to attend permits ASL as a modern language requirement for admission.

Additional information about ASL can be found in the Standards for Learning American Sign Language, from the American Sign Language Teachers Association.