Friday, July 06, 2012


By Louis Freedberg| EdSource Today

July 6th, 2012  ::  For the first time, graduating seniors from around California – more than 10,000 – have been awarded a state “seal” indicating their proficiency in two languages.

The award, which consists of a gold seal affixed to a student’s high school diploma, is the result of legislation (AB 815) authored by Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) and  signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

Some 59 districts around the state were already awarding their own seal of biliteracy, but this is the first time that it has been done statewide.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority – 70 percent – of those earning the seal demonstrated proficiency in Spanish, followed by French (10 percent) and Mandarin (7 percent).  Some 2 percent of students were proficient in Japanese, with a similar percentage in Cantonese and German. Altogether, students with proficiency in 40 different languages, including American sign language, were awarded the seal.

The California Department of Education could not provide a breakdown as to what proportion of those receiving the seal were native English speakers.

Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, executive director of Californians Together, which advocated on behalf of the seal for many years, earlier told EdSource that the seal was not intended to be a rebuff to Proposition 227, the 1998 initiative effectively banning bilingual education in California. Rather, she said, it is a way to ”take a fresh look at the benefits of students being equipped in multiple languages.”

Going deeper

For more on the seal of biliteracy, check out this page on the California Department of Education website.

To receive the seal, students must:

  1. Have a grade point average of more than 2.0 in English language arts,
  2. Be proficient in the English language arts standardized test administered in the 11th grade,
  3. Pass a foreign language Advanced Placement class with a score of 3 or higher, or an International Baccalaureate exam with a score of 4 or higher; or complete four years of study in high school of a world language, with an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • 2cents smf:  LAUSD did not participate in the state seal program – the District has a biliteracy awards program of it’s own.

The LAUSD program is equivalent as to what it takes for a student to qualify the state award – and the District recognizes students during the program – not just at graduation.  However it is driven by an administrivial and mind-numbingly bureaucratic / labor and effort intensive process  [REF-5306.0: Guidelines for Implementation of the LAUSD Biliteracy Awards – compare+contrast to State Seal of Biliteracy Requirements Checklist]

…and the end result is not an award with statewide recogntion

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