Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Importance of the State Seal of Biliteracy

California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
September 12, 2017

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

IMPORTANCE OF THE STATE SEAL OF BILITERACY

The State Seal of Biliteracy (SSB) program, effective since January 1, 2012, recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English. (California Education Code sections 51460–51464).

In 2016, California received an award from the U.S. Department of Education in recognition as the national leader in promoting multilingualism. Currently, over 27 states and Washington D.C., have followed our lead. The program will continue in 2017–18 and subsequent years. This year, the California Department of Education (CDE) will utilize the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System to collect SSB information. Local educational agencies (LEAs) may choose to use the data as one of their college and career indicators.

Other purposes of the SSB are to encourage pupils to study languages, provide employers with a method to identify people with language and biliteracy skills, strengthen intergroup relationships and affirm the value of diversity, and honor the multiple cultures and languages of a community.

In the Class of 2017, 46,090 students earned the SSB, marked by a gold seal affixed to the awarded students’ high school diplomas. Since program inception when 10,685 students received the SSB, the earned number of seals has more than quadrupled.

The passage of the California Education for a Global Economy (CA Ed.G.E.) Initiative, also known as Proposition 58, presents new and exciting opportunities for those LEAs implementing the SSB. The CA Ed.G.E. Initiative encourages schools and school districts to provide opportunities for all students to participate in language instructional programs. These expanded program opportunities will allow more California students to achieve biliteracy and earn the SSB.

Participation in the SSB continues to be voluntary for LEAs; however, while fluency in more than one language has always been an admirable skill, biliteracy is increasingly important to employment in an international and global context.

To encourage participation in the SSB program and early preparation of students, consider disseminating SSB information to middle school and incoming ninth grade students. Please share this information with your administrators, world language department chairs, and English learner program directors.

The CDE and I are committed to honoring students meeting the demands of the SSB. Further details about the SSB and qualification criteria may be accessed on the CDE State Seal of Biliteracy Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/el/er/sealofbiliteracy.asp.

If you have any questions regarding the SSB, please 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:ggs
2017-05846
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Recently Posted in Editorials & Letters

  • March is National Nutrition Month (added 11-Mar-2020)
    Letter to County Superintendents, District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Principals regarding celebrating March as National Nutrition Month.
  • Coronavirus Guidance Update (added 06-Mar-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and Principals regarding an update on 2019 Novel Coronavirus guidance and a Coronavirus informational document to share with county office, districts, and schools.
  • 2020 Classified School Employees of the Year (added 04-Mar-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the 2020 Classified School Employees of the Year Program.
  • Adopt Comprehensive School Environment Resources (added 19-Feb-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding comprehensive school safety plans, legislative updates, and other resources.
  • 2019 Novel Coronavirus Guidance for Schools (added 14-Feb-2020)
    2019 Novel Coronavirus Guidance for Schools and School Districts

  • Census 2020 (added 11-Feb-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Principals regarding the 2020 Census and making sure California’s school-aged children are counted.
  • National School Breakfast Week: March 2–6, 2020 (added 11-Feb-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, Chief Business Officials, and Food Service Directors regarding National School Breakfast Week: March 2–6, 2020.
  • Sponsor for CA School Recognition Program (added 10-Feb-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators regarding the Presenting Sponsor for 2019–2021 California School Recognition Program.
  • Raising Awareness of the Armenian Genocide (added 10-Feb-2020)
    Letter to County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, and School Principals regarding an essay and visual arts scholarship competition to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide.
  • Public Charge Rule Update (added 29-Jan-2020)
    Public Charge Rule Does Not Impact Public Education and Programs Provided by Schools