Seal of Biliteracy | Information & Criteria

seal-of-biliteracyWhat is the Seal of Biliteracy?

  • An award upon graduation that certifies a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, writing in at least 2 languages, one of which is English
  • AB 815, which established the Seal of Biliteracy, was passed January 1, 2012
  • The seal formally recognizes biliteracy as an asset and a 21st century skill needed in an interconnected, diverse world
  • Can be awarded to students who acquire proficiency in a second language or to native speakers of other languages who become fully proficient in English. (Includes sign language)

Rationale for the Seal of Biliteracy

World language study makes important contributions to students’ cognitive development and our national economy and security. Multiple languages are critical to participating effectively in global political, social, cultural and economic contexts, and to expanding trade with other countries. The demand for employees to be fluent in more than one language is increasing rapidly in California and throughout the world.

Criteria for the Seal

1. Demonstrate proficiency in English:

  • Meet all regular requirements for a high school diploma
  • Complete English/language arts courses with GPA of at least 2.0 in those classes
  • Score proficient on standards test in 11th grade
  • Score advanced on the CELDT for former English Learners

2. Demonstrate proficiency in languages other than English by one of the following:

  • Advanced Placement Exam – score of 3 or above
  • International Baccalaureate Exam – score of 4 or above
  • SAT II Foreign Language Exam – score of 600 or above
  • Foreign government language exam – passing score
  • 4 years of language classes in specified language with at least a 3.0 GPA
  • District-established exam that meets rigor of 4-year course of study, approved by CDE

Additional Requirements which may be added locally by districts

  • Local assessments
  • On-demand writing
  • Oral interview
  • Application including student statement about why bilingualism & the award are important
  • Portfolio of work in 2 languages which may include translation/interpretation work
  • Documented service learning, community service or field work using more than one language

Pathway Awards – Local options designed to inspire and recognize kids along the way

Preschool

  • Make parents aware of the award early, to help them understand the importance of maintaining primary language
  • Preschool is where attitudes and feelings about primary language are developed
  • Preschool is also when parents are making decisions about children’s language development
  • Californians Together has created an indicator checklist for preschools. When kids finish preschool in a program with these indicators, all children receive a pathway certificate.
  • Examples of preschool pathway activities: multilingual signs, songs, messages, simple phrases, and parent education about the importance of home language maintenance

Elementary and middle school Service Awards

  • Participation award to honor participation in language study
  • Service award to honor use of language to help others
  • Examples: reading buddy to kids in preschool, ambassador to visitors, assistance to families

Elementary and middle school Achievement Awards

  • Proficient on a standards-based test in English
  • Proficient in all 4 domains of another language

How to Implement the Seal of Biliteracy

Californians Together has produced a "How to" pamphlet outlining steps to create the seal. County offices often take the lead in establishing the program in areas with small districts.

  1. Clarify the purpose and rationale – may want a formal policy statement
  2. Determine the levels of awards to be given
  3. Define the criteria and assessments for granting the awards
  4. Develop outreach strategies and the application process
  5. Design the award, celebration, process for presentation (medals, trophies, ribbons)
  6. Publicize, get administrators teachers and counselors involved, seek endorsements
  7. Put the plan for success into action

Resources

Californians Together website
Has letters, press releases, checklists, forms

Seal of Biliteracy promotional and introductory video

Seal of Biliteracy brochure

Seal of Biliteracy brochure – Spanish

California Department of Education – Seal of Biliteracy