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Awarding the State Seal of Biliteracy

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

May 8, 2013


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


The State Seal of Biliteracy (SSB), AB 815 (Brownley, Chapter 618, Statutes of 2011), became effective January 1, 2012, and provides recognition to high school students who have demonstrated proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. Each school district, county office of education (COE), 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. In the first year of the program, nearly 11,000 insignias were awarded to qualifying students in approximately 100 districts and 17 charter schools.

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

  1. Complete all English Language Arts requirements for graduation with an overall grade point average of 2.0 or above in those classes.

  2. Pass the California Standards Test in English Language Arts administered in grade 11 at the Proficient level or above.

  3. Demonstrate proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English through one of the following methods:

    1. Pass 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. Complete a four-year high school course of study in a foreign (world) language with 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, pass 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 an 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. Pass the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) II foreign language examination with a score of 600 or higher.

If the primary language of a pupil in any of grades 9–12 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 the purpose of determining SSB eligibility, 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 persons involved in collecting data and implementing the SSB in their district read the entire text of AB 815, which may be accessed online at

The California Department of Education (CDE) provides the following documents, which can be accessed online, to process requests for insignias:

  1. State Seal of Biliteracy Requirements Checklist. (This checklist is for district use only. Please do not submit this checklist to the CDE.) School district and direct-funded charter school staff may use this spreadsheet to identify graduating students who meet the SSB criteria. This document is on the CDE State Seal of Biliteracy Web page at

  2. Insignia Request Form. (Submit this form to the CDE.) School district and charter school staff must complete this form and submit it to the CDE’s 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

Frequently Asked Questions are also available on the CDE State Seal of Biliteracy Web page at

After identifying graduating high school students who qualify for the SSB, each district, COE, or direct-funded charter school must submit an Insignia Request Form to the CDE by mail. The district superintendent or direct-funded charter school administrator must sign the form, which may be mailed to the following address:

California Department of Education
English Learner Support Division
State Seal of Biliteracy
1430 N Street, Suite 2204
Sacramento, CA 95814

The CDE has begun processing requests for insignias for the 2012–13 school year. If you have already submitted a Request for Insignias, you do not need to do so again. While there is no deadline for submitting the request, school districts, direct-funded charter schools, and COEs 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 school staff to affix the insignias to the diplomas. Generally, insignias will be mailed within two weeks from the date that 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


Tom Torlakson


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