SACRAMENTO—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 July 5.
The “State Seal of Biliteracy” was established by Assembly Bill 815 — authored by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, a Santa Monica Democrat — 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. Japanese, Cantonese, and German registered 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:
·Complete all English-language arts requirements for graduation with an overall grade point average of 2.0 or above in those classes.
·Pass at the “proficient” level the California Standards Test in English-language arts administered in Grade 11.
·Display proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English 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 successfully completing 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.