World Languages: Seal of Biliteracy


Contact

Cathleen Skinner
Director of World Languages
Curriculum and Instruction
cathleen.skinner@sde.ok.gov

 

What is biliteracy?

Biliteracy refers to a person’s ability to read, write and effectively collaborate with others in more than one language. However, in the fullest sense of the term, biliteracy extends beyond the acquisition of two separate languages and refers to the ability to use the knowledge of one language to support the other.

What is the Seal of Biliteracy?

Established in September 2020 (70 O.S. § 11-103.2; 201:10-1-16), the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy is a credential bestowed by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to recognize and honor high school students who have attained a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English. The Seal of Biliteracy is available to any student who is able to demonstrate biliteracy in English and another language at the Intermediate-Mid or Advanced-Low level.The recognition for attaining biliteracy becomes part of the high school transcript and recognizes the student’s readiness for career, college and engagement as a global citizen.

"I’m so excited for the World Languages students in Edmond Public Schools to earn the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy! This credential provides both recognition and tangible evidence of their ability to read, write and speak in two languages so they may better serve their state and their country.” – Carina Plett, NBCT, Spanish teacher and Curriculum Coordinator for World Languages, Edmond Public Schools

 

How is the Seal of Biliteracy valuable?

The Seal of Biliteracy can be used as a credential to help differentiate students when they apply for jobs, college or the military. The Oklahoma version of the credential recognizes students who have achieved this crucial 21st-century career and workplace skill distinction, promotes the learning of languages and celebrates the linguistic and cultural diversity that strengthens our state. Biliterate students are less likely to drop out of high school, are more likely to go to college, have fewer behavior problems at school and obtain higher-paying jobs than their peers (Gándara and Escamilla, 2017).

Did You Know?

Oklahoma is the 40th state, along with the District of Columbia, to establish a Seal of Biliteracy.

There are several beneficiaries of the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy:

  • Students, who receive an important, tangible recognition;
  • Academic institutions, which see evidence of students’ advanced linguistic skills;
  • Potential employers, for whom biliteracy-related credentials and career endorsement may be important.

 

“Knowledge of more than one language and culture is advantageous for all students. Bilingualism is an individual and societal asset.”Teaching English to the Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) International Association, 2006.

 

How do students achieve the Seal of Biliteracy?

The Urgency of World Language Education

“Since the 1983 Nation at Risk report to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 to the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, the United States government consistently reports that proficiency in world languages is essential for the nation’s domestic and international success. Diplomatic, military and intelligence services rely on individuals with multilingual skills to provide for national security. Proficiency in world languages and cultures supports economic success, as it maintains and advances the nation’s ability to trade and compete internationally as well as its ability to sustain and expand domestic markets. The ability to read, write and collaborate with others in multiple languages facilitates complex and dynamic research for academic, scientific, technological and health sectors, among others. Multilingual proficiency among public servants is necessary to ensure that everyone has access to critical legal and social services. It is therefore in the nation’s and state’s interest to promote and expand world language education for all.” – Massachusetts Frameworks for World Languages, 2021

Any student in grades 9-12 who demonstrates proficiency in both English and another language through state-approved assessments can earn the Seal of Biliteracy. Development of proficiency in a second language that reaches required levels can take place in any context and may start well before high school.

Some of the most common examples of contexts that put students on a pathway to earning the Seal of Biliteracy include:

  • Learning a language in a PreK-8th grade World Language program [ex.: Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES), Dual-Language Immersion (D-L/I) or middle-school program] that leads to advanced language courses at the secondary level. Districts that offer World Languages before 9th grade are encouraged to create a recognition program that celebrates students learning a language when they reach transition points.
  • Participating in a secondary world languages program with advanced courses
  • Being raised in a household where another language is spoken, living in a community where another language is used frequently or having a cultural connection to a specific language group (Heritage learner)
  • Experience living in a country where another language is spoken
  • Achieving an Intermediate-Mid or Advanced-Low language proficiency on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL) scale on state-approved assessments in English and another language

English learners (ELs) who are supported by districts in continuing to develop proficiency in their home language usually have stronger development in English and academic performance. By encouraging additive bilingualism practices, districts offer strong support to these students who often go on to outperform monolingual peers in academics and can lead to them achieving the Seal of Biliteracy.

 

How can districts support students in pursuing the Seal of Biliteracy?

  • Provide information on the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy to families and students regardless of whether the district offers World Languages
  • Select a school or district-level coordinator for the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy program to identify potential candidates. This coordinator should enlist the help of English language arts, EL and World Languages faculty and school counselors, and arrange access for the appropriate assessments for each potential candidate.
  • Provide or supplement assessment funding
  • Report qualifying students’ information in the Oklahoma Academic Scholars-Seal of Biliteracy report on Single Sign-On annually by the end of April (reporting dates are published yearly)
  • Recognize, publicize and celebrate the success of students who achieve the Seal of Biliteracy
  • Provide professional development to World Languages faculty on how to build high levels of second language proficiency
  • Provide access to second-language instruction to all students beginning in early elementary grades and advanced classes at the secondary level. Reaching levels of proficiency needed to qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy requires more than the current graduation requirement of two years of classes in the same world language.

“The Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy advocates for World Language education, recruits much-needed teachers in our state and empowers students to continue their journey to achieve fluency, ignite cultural curiosity and fuel the desire and ability to connect with people from all over the world."Darcy Pippins, Spanish teacher, Norman Public Schools

 

How can school counselors provide support?

All students benefit from having World Languages instruction because of the personal and societal benefits of learning additional languages including increased cognitive development, academic growth and career preparedness. High school counselors play an important role in advising students of the many academic, career and citizen-ready benefits of World Languages and enrolling them in appropriate courses. Providing students with language choices can improve their success. In addition, World Languages and the Seal of Biliteracy support the Individual Career and Academic Planning (ICAP) program and careers in every employment sector.

 

How are student-candidates for the Seal of Biliteracy identified? 

At the beginning of each school year, counselors and Seal of Biliteracy coordinators should begin identifying potential candidates for the Seal of Biliteracy by reviewing Advanced Placement, ACT and WIDA scores of students enrolled in advanced World Languages classes and students who may have proficiency in another language. Opportunities to improve first-language skills of English learners students should be encouraged. 

Upon receipt of assessment scores, counselors and coordinators must enter qualifying students’ names, student numbers, languages, assessments and scores into the Oklahoma Academic Scholars-Seal of Biliteracy Report on Single Sign-On. All information should be entered by the end of April. 

“The Seal of Biliteracy has given my program new meaning. As a teacher of a lesser-taught language, French, it is nice to have a recruitment and retention tool that will benefit my students in the long term. The Seal of Biliteracy designation on a high school transcript can motivate students to continue their language studies and see how this skill will assist them in their future career paths. It is no longer enough that students fulfill a two-year requirement for language study if we are to prepare them for global competency. It is exciting to see Oklahoma invest in, recognize and become a champion for world languages."Whitney Stafford-Najibi, NBCT, French teacher, Westmoore H.S., and Executive Secretary, Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers Association (OFLTA)

 

Process and Timeline for Districts and Students

Steps Description Completion Date
Districts advise counselors, faculty & families of benefits and availability of Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy. Districts disseminate and distribute information to school sites and personnel including counselors, World Languages and EL teachers, all students and their families in all grades about the opportunity, criteria and process for earning the Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy. Posted throughout the year on the district/school website, at enrollment, parent events and student advisories throughout the year.

Districts determine internal timeline and how to provide/support equitable access to state-approved assessments in English and other languages and share information with stakeholders.

1) Establish a timeline to disseminate information, identify students who qualify or are close to qualifying, solicit applications from students, solicit and secure funds from community stakeholders and district, establish a calendar of tests, set up accounts with testing companies and schedule tests for students based on state timeline and process.

 

2) Identify students who have completed or are close to completing state-approved Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy assessments.

 

3) Determine how to provide equitable access to state-approved assessments to every student who could be a strong candidate or who wants to pursue recognition, regardless of World Languages or EL opportunities provided within the district.

 

4) Seal of Biliteracy coordinator contacts assessment providers to set up accounts if necessary and establishes a timeline for assessment and reporting of results by the last district report to the OSDE before graduation.

At the beginning of each academic year in August and ongoing through the school year. Information posted on the school and/or district website throughout the school year.

Counselors, world languages, English and English language learner teachers guide students to achieve biliteracy and recognition.

1) Advise all students of the benefits of achieving biliteracy in English and another language at Intermediate-Mid level and higher.

 

2) Provide guidance to students on how to achieve biliteracy.

 

3) Recruit students to apply for recognition and help them establish proficiency goals

In February/March, August/September and at student advisories including for ICAP, in World Languages and English/EL classes and other opportunities.

Students notify the district Seal of Biliteracy coordinator of intent to pursue the Seal of Biliteracy.

Students notify a Seal of Biliteracy coordinator of intent to participate in assessments leading to the Seal of Biliteracy.

 

Note: By submitting a letter of intent, students are more likely to invest in their language development, receive support from parents, teachers and staff, and reach their goal.

Deadline for notification should be established in time for students to sign up for required assessments.

District Seal of Biliteracy coordinator gathers information and data on assessments that students need and arranges for students to take the necessary proficiency assessments.

District Seal of Biliteracy coordinator gathers data from assessments already taken and arranges assessments needed for students who intend to take an assessment.

 

Districts are encouraged to pay for or provide financial assistance to ensure no student is denied the credential due to financial burden. Assessments can be paid for using Title I funds, and students receiving free- and reduced-price lunch can receive financial support using the same methods as for other assessments. Contact the OSDE Office of Federal Programs or Director of World Languages Other Than English at Cathleen.Skinner@sde.ok.gov with questions.

Beginning in December, coordinate assessments to allow results to be reported by the end of April.

Students take assessments.

Students take assessments in English and other language(s) at appropriate times throughout grades 9-12. Students may qualify with assessments taken in previous years. Students qualifying through AP tests in their senior year will be called “Candidates for the Seal of Biliteracy” until results are received after graduation. Those who qualify will receive recognition after graduation.

Assessments are arranged in time for results to be reported by the end of April in the Oklahoma Academic Scholars-Seal of Biliteracy Report in Single Sign-On.

Using the provided criteria, the Seal of Biliteracy coordinator identifies qualifying students. Results and demographic profiles are reported to OSDE.

Assessment data for students qualifying for recognition are reported in Single Sign-On. All districts are required to report results even if no student applies or qualifies.

Reporting deadline before May.

OSDE sends certificates and recognition foil seals for diplomas to districts for distribution.

OSDE provides recognition documents and seals to districts.

First week of May.

Districts add Seal of Biliteracy recognition on recipients’ official transcripts and place appropriate seal from OSDE on the diplomas of graduates to show level of proficiency.

Districts may add additional symbols of recognition, including ribbons, medals, etc.

 

Districts will include the languages and level of proficiency achieved on qualifying students’ official transcripts whenever requirements are met during a student’s high school enrollment. The official seal corresponding to their assessed level of proficiency will be placed on their diploma at graduation.

Transcription occurs in time to allow juniors who qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy to use it for scholarship, college and job applications.

 

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Last updated on August 30, 2021