Does your high school offer the Seal of Biliteracy designation for your graduating seniors? 44 of the states in the United States offer this award! This is a seal that is placed on the diploma of a graduating student from high school when they have met a certain level of mastery in at least 1 language other than English. California was the first state to offer it in 2011, and it highlights a 21st century skill that can really set your language students apart from other graduates!
For far too long, World Languages have not been held in as high a regard as other academic courses. We have been considered a “special” or an “elective”, but now we have the Seal of Biliteracy that gives our subject area, our students and our educators the respect they deserve with this honor!
What Is The Seal Of Biliteracy, Exactly?
The Seal of Biliteracy is an award that was designed to be given by individual states. It can also be given by county or by district. Students must complete requirements to prove that they have reached certain levels of mastery in at least one language other than English. The Seal is applied to their diploma and demarks their achievements.
Who Awards The Seal of Biliteracy?
Individual states can give this award, bit districts or counties can also give this award.
Why Should We Offer This To Our Students?
There are a number of reasons to offer the Seal of Biliteracy to our students!
- Highlights the importance of being proficient in more than one language
- Honors the hard work and accomplishments of our students who study languages
- Demonstrates skills that are attractive to colleges, scholarship committees and employers
- It can give your language department a good measure of the proficiency level your students
What Are The Steps To Implementing The Seal of Biliteracy in My School?
If your state is one that already offers the Seal of Biliteracy, and 44 do!, simply bring the idea up with your department chairperson! Having students earn the Seal of Biliteracy makes your school, your district, your students and your colleagues look good! There’s a high probability that your department chairperson will be on board!
There are six steps to take towards implementing a Seal of Biliteracy if your state does not already offer the Seal of Biliteracy. These steps were taken from the official website, which is linked below!
- Clarify the Purpose(s) and Rationale
- Determine the Level of Pathway Awards to Be Granted
- Define the Criteria for Granting the Awards
- Develop Outreach Strategies and an Application Process
- Design the Award and the Process for Award Presentation
- Seek Endorsements! Spread the Word!
In my state, the requirements are as follows:
-Student must complete 4 credits of English courses with at least a 2.0 GPA
-Students must score and Intermediate 3 (I3) on all 3 sections of the AAPPL test offered by ACTFL.
How Can I Help My Students Prepare?
The best way to help students prepare is to offer them excellent curriculum and feedback as they progress through their language courses. Students need sequential, well thought-out coursework that will help them improve their proficiency. Being able to create with language, ask and answer questions, and use more than one time frame is also important.
As much as we hate this, I believe that it’s also important to practice. Each state or district might have a different test or requirement they use to determine eligibility for the Seal of Biliteracy. But just as we have students take practice tests for the SAT or their driving test, it’s important to let them see the format of the test they will take and practice the types of questions they will see.
This can be done in 2 ways. One would be to incorporate those kinds of questions into your regular lessons and assessments. Another way would be to set aside time to practice.
In our school, we use the AAPPL test. It has a practice test on the website!
I have also created practice tests that mimic the AAPPL test for my students. You can use just one test or get the entire bundle together to save money! I will link the individual practice tests below.
When Should My Students Take The Test?
In our school, our students take the AAPPL test to measure their proficiency. Students in Year 3 are often prepared to score Intermediate 3 and many score higher!
We offer the test in both the fall and the spring. By spring of Year 3, we have a lot of success! Students in Years 4 and 5 also test.
One great feature of the AAPPL test is that students can retest only the section(s) for which they did not achieve the score they needed. They only need to pay for those sections, instead of paying for and/or retaking the entire test. The entire test is $20, which is relatively affordable as standardized tests go.
Before Covid, we offered the test at school. Now students take it at home on their own time. It’s actually very convenient!
Where Can I Find More Information?
Click HERE for the official website for the Seal of Biliteracy
AAPPL Test Practice Bundle (Reading, Writing, Speaking/Listening)