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TITLE: Summary of Carnegie Mellon University Policy on Evaluation and Certification of English Fluency for Instructors

ACCOUNTABLE DEPARTMENT/UNIT: Office of the Provost. General questions on policy content should be directed to the Provost's Office, ext. 8-6967. For specific questions regarding TA certification, contact the Intercultural Communication Center, ext. 8-4979.

ABSTRACT: The English Fluency in Higher Education Act of 1990 requires all institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania to evaluate and certify the English language fluency of their instructional faculty.

Summary of how the Carnegie Mellon policy satisfies the Pennsylvania English Fluency in Higher Education Act

·       The Pennsylvania English Fluency in Higher Education Act requires the University to file annually with the Pennsylvania Department of Education a certification stating that its instructional personnel are fluent in the English language.  All instructional personnel, both native and nonnative speakers of English who teach undergraduate students, must be included in CMU's annual certification process. 

·       Faculty members who are native speakers of English and who teach undergraduates will be certified by their departments on the basis of conversations with the dean, department head or specified designee. Departments cannot assume that someone is a native speaker without talking with him or her.

·       The fluency of non-native English speaking faculty members will be evaluated through two interviews: one with the dean, department head or specified designee, and the second with a senior faculty member. All interviewers must be native speakers of English.

·       TA English fluency -- both graduate and undergraduate -- is managed through the International Teaching Assistant testing process administered by CMU's Intercultural Communication Center.


(Note: CMU policy requires the International Teaching Assistant Test for TAs of both graduate as well as undergraduate classes.)


·       Consistent with Pennsylvania law, CMU allows for the following exemptions from certification:  1) visiting faculty, 2) faculty who will teach courses taught predominantly in a foreign language, 3) faculty who work one-on-one with students, and 4) faculty who work one-on-one with students.


(Note:  CMU requires TAs to take the ITA for any job that requires student interaction.)


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