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Awarding the State Seal of Biliteracy

Letter Head: Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education

March 8, 2012

Dear County and District Superintendents and Direct-Funded Charter School Administrators:

PROCEDURES FOR AWARDING THE STATE SEAL OF BILITERACY

The State Seal of Biliteracy (SSB), established by Assembly Bill 815 (Brownley, Chapter 618, Statutes of 2011), became effective January 1, 2012, and provides recognition to high school students who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. Each school district or direct-funded charter school that confers the SSB is required to maintain appropriate records in order to identify students who have met the established criteria for the award and to affix the SSB insignia to the diploma or transcript of each qualifying student.

To qualify for the SSB, high school graduates must meet all of the following criteria:

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

  2. Passing the California Standards Test in English–language arts administered in grade eleven at the “proficient” level.

  3. Proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English, demonstrated through one of the following methods:

    1. Passing a foreign language Advanced Placement examination with a score of 3 or higher or an International Baccalaureate examination with a score of 4 or higher.

    2. Successful completion of a four-year high school course of study in a foreign (world) language and attainment of an overall grade point average of 3.0 or above in that course of study.

    3. If no Advanced Placement examination or off-the-shelf language test exists and the school district can certify to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) that the test meets the rigor of a four-year high school course of study in that foreign (world) language, passing a school district language examination that, at a minimum, assesses speaking, reading, and writing in a language other than English at the “proficient” level or higher. If a school district offers a language examination in a language in which an Advanced Placement examination or off-the-shelf language test does exist, the school district language examination shall be approved by the SSPI for the purpose of determining proficiency in a language other than English.

    4. Passing the Scholastic Assessment Test II foreign language examination with a score of 600 or higher.

If the primary language of a pupil in any of grades nine to twelve, inclusive, is other than English, he or she shall do both of the following in order to qualify for the SSB:

  1. Attain the Early Advanced proficiency level on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT). For purposes of this paragraph, a participating school district may administer the CELDT test an additional time as necessary.

  2. Meet all the criteria listed above in 1, 2, and 3.

It is recommended that all people involved in collecting data and implementing the SSB in their district read AB 815 in its entirety. AB 815 can be accessed on the Official California Legislative Information AB 815 Web page at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0801-0850/ab_815_bill_20111008_chaptered.pdf (PDF) External link opens in new window or tab..

The California Department of Education (CDE) provides the following documents to assist in the identification of graduating seniors who qualify for the SSB to request the insignia:

  1. State Seal of Biliteracy Requirements Checklist. (This checklist is for district use only.) School district and direct-funded charter school staff may use this spreadsheet to identify graduating students who meet the SSB criteria. Please do not submit this checklist to the CDE. This document is on the CDE State Seal of Biliteracy Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/sealofbiliteracy.asp.

  2. Insignia Request Form. (Submit this form to the CDE.) School district and charter school staff are to complete this form and submit it to the CDE English Learner Support Division to request the diploma insignias for eligible students. This document is on the CDE State Seal of Biliteracy Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/sealofbiliteracy.asp.

Frequently Asked Questions and language resources are available on the CDE State Seal of Biliteracy Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/sealofbiliteracy.asp.

After identifying graduating high school students who qualify for the SSB, complete and submit one Insignia Request Form per district or direct-funded charter school. The district superintendent or direct-funded charter school administrator must sign the form. The completed and signed form may be mailed to the CDE at any time. The CDE will begin mailing the self-adhesive gold insignias during the first week of April 2012. Note that while there is no deadline for submitting the form, school districts and direct-funded charter schools should send their requests far enough in advance of the date of the first graduation ceremony to allow time for the CDE to process the requests and for district and direct-funded charter school staff to affix the insignias to the diplomas. Generally, insignias can be expected within three to six weeks from the date the CDE receives a request.

Please share this information with high school principals, administrators, world language department chairs, and English learner program directors. If you have questions about the SSB, contact the Language Policy and Leadership Office by phone at 916-319-0845 or by e-mail at SEAL@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Tom Torlakson

TT:nz
Enclosure 1 - http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/documents/ssbchecklist.doc (DOC; 73KB; 2pp.)
Enclosure 2 - http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/documents/ssbinsigniareq.doc (DOC; 58KB; 2pp.)

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