At its meeting of Tuesday, Feb. 21, the district Board of Education voted unanimously to include the “State Seal of Biliteracy” on diplomas of graduating seniors who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in one or more world languages in addition to English. The new seal is intended for all qualifying students who studied a foreign language in high school.
Starting in the 2012-13 school year, the special seal will be stamped on diplomas and included in high school transcripts of qualifying seniors. It will recognize those students who through their studies and testing have documented they are bilingual or biliterate in one of the languages taught in district schools.
Eligible students can receive recognition in any world language taught in the GGUSD: Vietnamese, Spanish, French, German, and Latin. The district anticipates up to 300 graduating seniors in the Class of 2013 will be eligible for the State Seal of Biliteracy.
“This award is aligned with our commitment that every student graduates prepared and equipped with the knowledge and skills to participate in college, career, and a diverse society,” said Board of Education President George West, Ed.D. “Achieving high levels of academic competency in both English and at least one other language is a vital asset for prospective employers competing in international trades and global markets, and for public services throughout our communities.”
Earning a Seal of Biliteracy is a challenging goal. Seniors must demonstrate proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages along with English.
To show their mastery of English, students must complete the district’s graduation requirement in English-language arts with an overall grade point average of 2.0 or better in those classes, and score either Proficient or Advanced on the 11th-grade California Standards Test (CST) in English-Language Arts or score “3” or higher on the Advanced Placement English Language or English Literature exam. Students with a primary language other than English must also attain the Early Advanced or higher proficiency level on the English language development test.
There are additional stringent criteria to qualify for the seal. To demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English, students are obligated to meet the requirement in one of four ways: scoring “3” or higher on any AP World Language or World Literature exam, completing a four-year high school course in a foreign language with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or better in that program, scoring 600 or better on an SAT subject test in a foreign language, or by school certification when proficiency cannot be established through testing or coursework.
The awarding of the Seal of Biliteracy became a statewide recognition program open to California school districts on Jan. 1 after Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 815 authored by Assemblywoman Julie Brownley.
Before the law took effect, some school districts and county offices of education throughout the state were awarding their own Seal of Biliteracy to graduating seniors. AB 815 establishes rigorous uniform requirements for the seal through the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.