Part of the Bay Area News Group

More than 10,000 students earned new state Seal of Biliteracy

By Theresa Harrington
Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 6:11 pm in Education.

AB 815 established a new Seal of Biliteracy, which is affixed to high school diplomas to recognize a student’s achievement in learning one or more languages in addition to English. The Mt. Diablo school district participated in this program, along with many others throughout the state.

Here’s more information about it, from a news release:

“More than 10,000 graduating high school students across California have earned the first state recognition in the nation for achieving proficiency in multiple languages, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

The “State Seal of Biliteracy” was established per Assembly Bill 815 (Brownley) to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. It takes the form of a gold seal affixed to the high school diplomas of qualified students. School district participation in the program is voluntary.

‘Fluency in a second language helps our students be well-prepared to compete in a global marketplace,’ Torlakson said. ‘The gold seal on their high school diploma recognizes and celebrates a second language as an asset not just for themselves, but for our state, nation, and world.’

More than 70 percent of students earned the seal by demonstrating proficiency in Spanish, followed by French (10 percent) and Mandarin (7 percent), with Japanese, Cantonese, and German registering at 2 percent each. Altogether, students earned the seal for demonstrated proficiency in 40 different languages, including American Sign.

To qualify for the State Seal of Biliteracy, high school graduates must meet all of the following criteria:

· Completion of all English-language arts requirements for graduation with an overall grade point average of 2.0 or above in those classes.

· Passing the California Standards Test in English-language arts administered in grade 11 at the “proficient” level.

· Proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English, demonstrated by passing a foreign language Advanced Placement examination with a score of three or higher or an International Baccalaureate examination with a score of four or higher; or by successful completion of a four-year high school course of study in a world language and attainment of an overall grade point average of 3.0 or above in that course of study.

For more information, please visit the State Seal of Biliteracy Web site at”

Do you support the state’s decision to recognize students’ proficiency in one or more languages other than English with a Biliteracy Seal?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

4 Responses to “More than 10,000 students earned new state Seal of Biliteracy”

  1. Jim Says:

    Be careful about putting too much stock into what the public education system says about the achievement levels of its own students. The criteria for proficiency in English — GPA of 2.0 or more and passing the California ELA standards at “proficient” or better — are not at all rigorous. A student could easily meet those criteria and not have any kind of “English proficiency” that employers would recognize. The third-party criteria for second-language proficiency (AP or IB exam results, NOT the 3.0 in four years of high school language instruction) are probably more trustworthy.

  2. Theresa Harrington Says:

    The Livermore school district, which regularly sends out news releases, sent the following information regarding Biliteracy seals issued in its district:

    “The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District is pleased to announce that 60 graduates from the Class of 2012 were awarded the Seal of Biliteracy in its first year of participation in the following languages:
    8 French
    48 Spanish
    1 Hindi
    1 Hungarian
    1 Polish
    1 Punjabi”

    The most recent Superintendent News Update on the MDUSD website, on the other hand, was released April 10:

  3. Clayton Squirrel Says:

    I’m not sure how useful this really is. You can’t use it to bolster your high school resume for college because this award is given out in May of the senior year. My son was awarded this medal and he is a very long way from being fluent in Spanish. I suppose he is biliterate in that he can read Spanish. Our MDUSD foreign language programs have a long way to go to graduate students who can write and converse in their second language if they haven’t already learned it at home.

  4. Doctor J Says:

    Gee whiz, I don’t remember reading about the Seal of Biliteracy in the “Good News”. @TH#10, Has Lawrence abandoned his multiple promises of a twice a month Supt “newsletter” ?

Leave a Reply