State Seals of Biliteracy, as of 5/25/2017*

       
Enacted
(Legislation, SBE)
Legislative Activity Advocacy Groups No state action
 

*adapted from sealofbiliteracy.org

Lexis Nexis Terms and Conditions

Workforce and Higher Education Connections

Research has demonstrated that the students who have received a Seal of Biliteracy are perceived as more desirable to employers across all industries surveyed. Sixty-six percent of employers responded that they would prefer a bilingual employee over a monolingual English speaker and that students who earned a seal would have an advantage in the hiring process. Colleges and universities have also recognized the seal when making admissions decisions and even when awarding credit for foreign language coursework.

Implementation Guidelines

Steps to implement a State Seal of Biliteracy are relatively straightforward. The Seal of Biliteracy Organization has produced an excellent resource for implementation.

  1. A purpose and rationale needs to be established; in order for the effort to gain traction, support can be generated by linking the Seal to its plethora of positive outcomes. From here the official policy, directive or resolutaion can be created and adopted by a governing body.
  2. Pathways need to be created; this refers to the many benchmarks that need to be set along the K-12 continuum to ensure that students are on track towards earning the seal. 
  3. The criteria for receiving a seal need to be established. States vary in the level of rigor required, but all require proficiency in the second language across multiple domains (speaking, reading and writing) according to a valid and reliable second language assessment.
  4. Outreach strategies and application processes must be developed in order to advertise the seal and deliver information to students (generally ninth graders) about its many benefits and the steps to take to earn one.
  5. Desinging the award and process for presentation; every state's seal looks different and the method in which they are presented also differs (e.g. at graduation, special ceremonies). 
  6. Use endorsements from community groups, public and private businesses and other to demonstrate the value and importance of the seal in local communities.

 

Matt Weyer is a senior policy specialist in the Education Program.
 

NCSL Resources

Additional Resources

 

State Seals of Biliteracy

5/25/2017

Overview

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.

State Legislation

graduateThe 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.

Interactive Map-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.