Seal of Biliteracy Updated Implementation Guidelines Focus on Equity and Expansion

  • December 18, 2020
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United by a common mission to support language learners and to advocate for languages as an asset for the communities and economies across the US, eight organizations have released updated guidelines for the implementation of the Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal of Biliteracy is issued by a school, district, or state in recognition of learners who have demonstrated a minimum level of proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. Informed by the experiences of the many state and local education agencies that have been implementing the Seal of Biliteracy, representatives from the organizations collaborated to update the original guidelines, which were released in 2015. The Seal is currently offered in 41 states and the District of Columbia.

“ACTFL celebrates the collaborative effort of our partnering organizations to provide these guidelines for honoring language learners’ biliteracy,” said Howie Berman, Executive Director of ACTFL. “ACTFL is committed to support the Seal of Biliteracy movement, support public and non-public schools and districts implementing the Seal and support the state education agencies charged with developing and carrying out policies related to the Seal. Language connects.”

“The Seal of Biliteracy is a celebration and recognition from governments on multilingualism and multiculturalism. In the updated guidelines, we focus on equity and expand the Seal of Biliteracy from an award at high school graduation to milestones in a journey to prepare our students to become global citizens,” added Arthur Chou, Managing Director, and

The updated guidelines are intended to strengthen existing strategies for implementation, encourage expansion at local and state levels, and connect all language learning programs across institutional lines to support all learners to achieve the Seal of Biliteracy, regardless of learners’ native or heritage language. “We are looking forward to the future when all 50 states have a State Seal of Biliteracy,” stated Martha Hernandez, Executive Director of Californians Together. “These updated guidelines are a tool for every state and district to be able to honor the linguistic talents of our students with a Seal of Biliteracy."

“The Modern Language Association applauds the collaborative efforts to strengthen and expand the Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes the rich linguistic diversity of the United States--a multilingualism that the MLA tracks in its enrollment census and documents on its language map. In valuing home and heritage languages, the Seal fosters the study of Spanish, indigenous languages, and Less-Commonly-Taught-Languages, which are often central to the curriculum at institutions in need of support, including two-year colleges, tribal colleges, and Hispanic Serving Institutions,” said Dennis Looney, Director of Programs and Association of Departments of Foreign Languages, MLA, identifying the important role of postsecondary institutions in recognizing high school graduates who earn the Seal of Biliteracy.

"The updated Guidelines for Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy reflect the ongoing commitment of national language leaders to recognize and honor the tremendous accomplishments of language learners who earn this designation. The National Council of State Supervisors for Languages is proud to be part of this effort to highlight an important global readiness skill that is much in demand in the public and private sector workforce," continued Lisa A. Harris, President, NCSSFL.

Miriam Ebsworth, National Secretary, National Association for Bilingual Education identified the value of learners’ language assets, adding “NABE is honored to enthusiastically endorse the Updated Seal of Biliteracy Guidelines in support of the achievements of emergent multilingual learners across the United States. Our multilingual, multiliterate students make a rich and essential contribution to our society and democracy that should be encouraged, appreciated, and celebrated.”

”TESOL International Association is delighted to promote the updated guidelines for the Seal of Biliteracy, a mark of achievement for students who learn two languages. Multilingualism is the gateway to the future and honoring the assets students bring to the classroom, as well as the gains they learn there, benefits us all,” according to Deborah J. Short, President of TESOL International Association.

David Holbrook, Executive Director, NAELPA concluded "NAELPA - The National Association of English Learner Program Administrators - is pleased to support the updated Seal of Biliteracy guidelines. The Seal of Biliteracy is a powerful way to acknowledge the multilingualism of students and celebrate their language learning success!"

This document was developed through the collaboration of the following organizations: ACTFL, Modern Language Association (MLA), National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), National Association of English Learner Program Administrators (NAELPA), National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL), and CaliforniansTogether, and TESOL International Association.