The Seal of Biliteracy is an accolade presented by a school, district or county office of education to recognize a student who has demonstrated proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation.
The seal encourages students to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills our students attain and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices. The seal is only presented to students who have graduated high school, as it is affixed to their diploma.
Numerous benefits are inherent in developing a Seal of Biliteracy: recognizing the value of language diversity, preparing high school graduates for a 21st century world and workplace and taking an asset-based view of non-native English students' native languages, cultures and heritage.
The first Seal of Biliteracy was created as part of a grass-roots effort by Californians Together, a non-profit educational advocacy group in 2008. In 2011, California became the first state to formally introduce and enact legislation creating the Seal of Biliteracy and over 10,000 graduates received the seal in the Spring of 2012. As of May 23, 2016, 21 states have approved legislation creating and governing Seals of Biliteracy. Another 6 states have pending legislation, five are in the early stages of formation (i.e. advocacy groups) and 18 have no activity in this area. The map below provides a summary with interactive links to legislation.
The map below provides interactive links to state-level legislation regarding Seals of Biliteracy. There is quite a bit of variation between states whether it is creating different levels of proficiency for the seals (gold, silver, bronze), whether they are formally recognized by institutions of higher education (e.g. can count for foreign language credit) and how reporting of students who have been awarded the seal is tracked and reported.