State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces More Than 10,000 Students Earn New State Seal of Biliteracy

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 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.
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