Language Proficiency Assessment - Hiring and Credentialing Bilingual Staff in High Need Languages

Hiring professionals with language proficiency and skills in high-need languages (i.e. Spanish, HMoob) is an important consideration of Extension’s mission to serve all state residents through our programs and services. In June 2023, the Dean’s Leadership Team approved the process for assessing, titling, and compensating bilingual employees whose professional assets in these high-need languages contribute to their work. The following document provides guidance to supervisors and hiring authorities. It outlines the process for assessing the language proficiency of 1) bilingual applicants for positions listed as bilingual skills “required” or “preferred” (Spanish or HMoob) and 2) current employees who use bilingual skills (Spanish or HMoob) as a part of their positions.


Why are Spanish and HMoob considered high-need languages?

Spanish and HMoob are considered “high need” languages due to the number of WI residents who speak each language and their geographic distribution across the state. Spanish and HMoob are the second and third most spoken languages in the state after English. Additionally, speakers of these language are the most geographically distributed relative to other groups of languages spoken in Wisconsin.

What does it mean to hire a position where bilingual is a required skill?

Bilingual as a required skill refers to language competencies that are essential to the position’s assigned responsibilities, duties, and tasks. Postings should be listed as bilingual when the position demands a professional level of language proficiency to successfully execute its scope of work on an ongoing basis (e.g. daily, weekly, etc.). Hiring a bilingual educator to provide public-direct programming in English and Spanish or HMoob is perhaps the most common example of position requiring bilingual skills.

What does it mean to hire a position where bilingual is a preferred skill?

Bilingual as a preferred skill means that bilingual proficiency (speaking, writing, etc.) is not an essential part of the position’s day-to-day responsibilities, duties, and tasks. However, it recognizes a professional’s communication assets as a source of support to help advance our educational and administrative priorities in targeted areas.

What are examples of how professionals with “preferred bilingual” skills can help support our educational and administrative priorities?

Supporting educational and administrative priorities can include:

  • Serving as Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) designate on search and screen committees
  • Serving as a designated point of program contact and information for community members whose preferred language is Spanish or HMoob
  • Supporting expanding access efforts driven by teams, task forces, and work groups within Institutes and the Division
  • Assisting with the development and editing of public-facing communication that serve Spanish-speaking and HMoob-speaking populations
  • Supporting or developing plans that help better manage existing multilingual communications that support Institute priorities
  • Providing assistance on long-term projects (e.g. multilingual curriculum) that is being developed by Division of Extension faculty and staff

What is the Language Proficiency Assessment (LPA) and how does it evaluate an applicant’s level of proficiency in the target language (i.e. Spanish or HMoob)?

The LPA is a process that is integrated as a part of the interviewing process. It provides a standardized process to assess an applicant’s ability and skills in the target language (e.g. written and oral communication). Hiring authorities help identify the position’s communication needs in the target language. As a part of the candidate interview process, assessment measures in the target language may include an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI), providing a sample piece of written communication in the target language, or a formal observation of programming delivered in the target language.


Language Proficiency Assessment (LPA): Formalized process that evaluates the level of language proficiency (ie. applied language skills and competencies) of a job candidate or new employee (see below for types of assessment methods). The LPA is adapted from standards and tools developed by the American Council on Teachers of Foreign Languages.

LPA designate: A qualified bilingual employee who has completed orientation and training provided by Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance.

Summative determination: An official written assessment of the candidate’s/employee’s level of language proficiency using a standardized rubric. LPA designate submits the determination to the appropriate authority (ie. supervisor, hiring authority, S&S chair). Included in the summative determination is a recommendation (or not) for bilingual title designation and pay adjustment.

Types of Language Proficiency Assessment methods:

  • Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI): A portion of the interview questions are conducted in the target language by the LPA designate. The OPI is typically conducted during the first or second round of candidate interviews.
  • Written language assessment: Candidates are expected to produce a writing sample in the target language (e.g. respond to a prompt, develop a piece of strategic communication, etc.). The writing sample is evaluated by the LPA designate. This assessment would typically take place after the first round of interviews (i.e. finalist stage).
  • Program observation (only applies to current employees): An assessment method where the LPA designate schedules a time to observe the employee’s programming in the target language. Program observations can be conducted during in-person programs or virtual programs.

Acceptable level of language proficiency: Candidate or employee possesses, at a minimum, an intermediate level of language proficiency in each type of assessment used (i.e. oral, written, observation). NOTE: standardized proficiency levels include novice, intermediate, advanced, superior (see rubric below).


This applies to ongoing/renewable academic staff (continuity code 03), university staff (continuity code 01), and limited appointments.


Roles and Authorities

Office of Access, Inclusion, and Compliance (OAIC)

Requests for Language Proficiency Assessments are submitted through OAIC’s intake process: OAIC Support Request Form. OAIC staff conducts Extension’s Language Proficiency Assessments. In some cases, Institutes or Program areas may already have an appointed designate who is trained on providing LPAs (e.g. FoodWIse). Following a Language Proficiency Assessment, OAIC staff (or designate) notifies the supervisor/hiring authority of the LPA results. This official notification provided to the supervisor/hiring authority is known as the “Summative Determination.” This document explains whether the new hire/current employee has successfully met or exceeded the minimum proficiency level for the bilingual pre-fix (see Appendix to see a sample of the Summative Determination form).

Supervisors/Hiring authorities

Supervisors and hiring authorities are responsible for keeping record of LPA requests of their employees. Supervisors are also responsible for submitting requests to OAIC for support with a Language Proficiency Assessment (applies to both new hires and current employees). The supervisor/hiring authority is responsible for providing HR with the official notification for an employee’s titling and compensation adjustment.

NOTE: For new hires, supervisors/hiring authorities must submit a request to OAIC prior to posting a job. This will allow OAIC to discuss the LPA process with the supervisor/hiring authority. This is necessary to ensure that OAIC has enough time to coordinate the appropriate level of support during the search and screen process.

Division of Extension Human Resources

Once the supervisor/hiring authority receives a Summative Determination from the LPA designated, they are responsible for informing Extension’s HR who will then make any necessary titling and compensation adjustments. The employee will receive a letter that confirms the adjustment to their title and compensation. The supervisors are copied on this letter.

Titling and Compensation Considerations

Upon the successful completion of a Language Proficiency Assessment, a “bilingual” pre-fix will be added to the employee’s official title. The bilingual pre-fix is accompanied by a $3500.00 pay increase applied to the employee’s annual salary.

Process for Hiring Bilingual Staff in High-Need Languages

Process for New Hires

  1. Prior to posting position, hiring managers submit an OAIC Support Request via OAIC website.
  2. OAIC schedules a meeting with hiring manager to discuss position and timeline.
  3. OAIC offers guidance on listing the position as bilingual “required” or “preferred”.
  4. OAIC works with hiring manager to coordinate LPA as a part of the interview process.
  5. OAIC conducts LPA of applicant(s) and completes Summative Determination form.
  6. OAIC communicates the LPA to hiring manager.
  7. Hiring manager shares Summative Determination with Human Resources to make appropriate title and salary adjustments at the time of hire.

Language Proficiency Assessment Process - New Hires 

Related Document

Language Proficiency Assessment - Hiring and Credentialing Bilingual Staff in High Need Languages

Language Proficiency Assessment for Current Bilingual Employees

Eligibility for current bilingual employees (Spanish or HMoob)

  • The employee must have a minimum of 12 months of service with the Division of Extension. Months of service as a UW employee prior to joining the Division of Extension will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • The employee must be able to demonstrate existing efforts of programming work in the target language (Spanish or HMoob)

Process for current bilingual employees (Spanish or HMoob)

Submit Language Proficiency Assessment through OAIC Intake Form

  1. The employee notifies their supervisor of their interest in pursuing the bilingual title and compensation adjustments. The staff member and supervisor will work together to identify job functions and responsibilities that are currently being achieved by using their proficiency and skills in one of the high need languages.
  2. Supervisor meets with employee to discuss how the employee’s specific duties, responsibilities, and scope of position enhance Extension's public reach, public service, and educational outreach. The discussion should focus on defined educational needs as it relates to the employee’s scope of work. a. If there are questions about whether the employee’s scope of work is eligible for bilingual title and compensation adjustments, the supervisor may contact Extension’s Chief Diversity Officer and HR Director. The CDO and HR Director will assist in clarifying whether the employee’s request is in alignment with what can be expected of a staff bilingual staff member (for more information, please see Bilingual Staff Scope of Position Document) b. Both the employee and supervisor are responsible for keeping record of their requests for a Language Proficiency Assessment (LPA).
  3. If the supervisor supports the employee’s request for bilingual title designation, the supervisor will submit a request for a language proficiency assessment (LPA) through the OAIC intake form.
  4. Supervisor meets with OAIC to discuss LPA for the employee and assessment method (e.g. program observation).
    1. With support from supervisor, OAIC coordinates with staff member to schedule a program observation.
  5. OAIC conducts the LPA for the employee and completes the Summative Determination form.
  6. Upon completion of the LPA, the supervisor will be notified of the outcomes of that assessment. If successful, the corresponding HR title and subsequent pay adjustment will be processed. If unsuccessful, OAIC, along with the supervisor will have a conversation with the staff member (if desired).

LPA Process: Workflow for current employees with bilingual proficiency

Related Document

Language Proficiency Assessment - Hiring and Credentialing Bilingual Staff in High Need Languages

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Related UW–Madison Documents, Web Pages, or Other Resources


Approval Authority

Dean's Leadership Team


Leon Carlos Miranda


Office of Access, Inclusion and Compliance




Effective Date


Date Issued


Next Review


KeywordsLPA Spanish HMoob Hmong Oral Proficiency OPI   Doc ID131767
OwnerCaitlin Y.GroupExtension Handbook
Created2023-09-29 10:34:15Updated2024-02-12 16:40:41
SitesExtension Handbook
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