Seal of Biliteracy

The Seal of Biliteracy (SoBL) is an award granted by a school, district, or state in the United States of America, "In recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation". The SoBL is meant to encourage students towards biliteracy in their first language and in English and to prepare for future bilingual teachers, as these candidates will already have proficiency in the four language domains. It originated in California in 2008 and was formally adopted by the state in 2011.

This SoBL is a seal that can be earned by students who are learning a second language aside from their native English or who are learning English as a second language and will be noted on the recipient's transcript or diploma. Candidates for the SoBl can be bilingual in any two languages, which includes American Sign Language, and have proficiency in all language domains such as listening, speaking, reading and writing. Scholars such as Kristin J. Davin and Amy J. Heineke have stated that the program's benefits are stronger efforts for academic success, bilingualism, and official recognition for their efforts.

In the United States, biliteracy has not always been the method of teaching English to English Language Learners (ELLs). In the past ELLs learned through the Sink or Swim method of total English immersion education, not having culturally relevant testing questions, or equitable assessment in schools. The intent behind the SoBL is that it will, "offer a promising policy solution to increase biliteracy among K-12 students, both as a means to promote the maintenance of students' home languages and encourage native English speakers to study additional languages" and make them "attractive to future employers".

History and eligibility
The SoBL was first developed in California in 2008 by Californians Together and was implemented in 2010 along with Velázquez Press. In 2011, legislation creating a California State Seal of Biliteracy was passed. Since then, it has been adopted by multiple states, including Colorado and New Jersey. It is only awarded to students in the public school system; students in private schools are not eligible. In order to obtain this Seal students must pass a proficiency exam. In the state of California students have to pass the California Assessment of English Performance and Progress before they may obtain this Seal. Students must also complete all ELA (English Language Arts) courses with a grade point average of 2.0 or above prior to high-school graduation in order to be eligible to obtain the Seal.

The SoBL has been adopted into legislature in multiple states and the District of Columbia, however elements defined as barriers to success by students includes a lack of awareness of the Seal and the assessment exams needed to obtain the Seal. Many students expressed a lack of awareness and preparedness until their senior year of high-school and in turn this made them ineligible for the seal. Specific schools that have implemented the SoBL include Norwalk High School in California and Logan-Rogersville High School in Missouri.

Areas and date of adoption

Year adopted States Notes
2011 California Originally created in 2008
2013 Illinois, Texas, New York
2014 New Mexico, Washington, Louisiana, Minnesota, District of Columbia
2014 North Caroline, Indiana, Virginia, Nevada, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Utah
2016 New Jersey, Oregon, Maryland, Florida, Georgie, Kansas, Arizona, Rhode Island
2017 Colorado, Ohio