What is the Seal of Biliteracy?
Governor Jay Inslee signed the State Seal of Biliteracy bill into law on March 27, 2014. The Seal of Biliteracy is an award made by the state to recognize a student who has attained proficiency in both English and one or more other world languages by high school graduation. The Seal of Biliteracy may take the form of a gold seal or notation that appears on the transcript and diploma of the graduating senior. It is a statement of accomplishment that helps to signal evidence of a student’s readiness for career and college, and to engage as a global citizen.
Origination of the Program
The Seal of Biliteracy originated in California and was signed into law in October 2011, with the first seals being issued starting in early 2012. New York passed their bill and it was signed into law in July 2012. Illinois passed their law in 2013, and a number of other states are also enacting legislation.
Reasons for Our State to Support It
With over 40% of Washington State jobs tied to international trade, it is critical for
our students to develop proficiency in English and other languages to be competitive in the future. Yet, few students pursue high enough levels of proficiency to meet our state and national needs. The bilingual skills of students for whom English is not a first or dominant language represent a tremendous potential resource to the state, but such students have been given little recognition or support for becoming biliterate, i.e. able to read and write in their home language and English. In addition to career advantages, studies also show numerous cognitive benefits for students learning more than one language, including enhanced working memory, attentional control, flexibility and creative thinking. All of these attributes will be valuable in students’ futures.
What Criteria Determine Biliteracy?
OSPI convened a group of stakeholders and experts on September 11, 2014 to review the legislation and recommend the criteria for awarding the Seal. They explored a variety of options that are being considered nationally, with a focus on how to create as equitable and inclusive a process as possible. Their recommendations will be sent to Superintendent Dorn.
OSPI will establish final criteria based on the Seal of Biliteracy Advisory Committee’s recommendations in time for seniors in the class of 2015 to be able to earn the Seal if they meet those criteria. If you have questions, feel free to contact the OSPI World Languages Program Office at email@example.com