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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #15-76
October 9, 2015
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Reports Increase in Number of Students Earning the State Seal of Biliteracy

SACRAMENTO—More high school students graduated with a State Seal of Biliteracy in 2015 than ever before, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

The program, which California was the first in the nation to create in 2012 and since has been emulated across the country, recognizes 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.

"Becoming multilingual is a huge asset in today's global economy, so I applaud the rising numbers of students attaining high levels of proficiency in multiple languages," Torlakson said. "These skills will help students to live, work, and thrive in a multicultural, multilingual, and highly connected world."  

 The State Seal of Biliteracy was established by Assembly Bill 815. Since then, Washington D.C. and several other states—Washington, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, New York, and Hawaii—have commenced their own state seal of biliteracy programs.

 In 2015, 31,816 graduating California public high school students earned the biliteracy gold seal, which was affixed to their diplomas, for achieving proficiency in multiple languages. This number is nearly three times the 10,685 reported in 2012. That number increased to 19,586 in 2013, and 24,151 in 2014.

 Of the total number of gold seals issued in 2015, 67.64 percent were for Spanish, 9.52 percent for French, 5.64 percent for Mandarin, 2.05 percent for German, 1.91 percent for Japanese, 1.73 percent for Latin, 1.25 percent for Korean, 0.84 percent for Vietnamese, and 0.30 percent were for Cantonese.

 The recognition is awarded by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in accordance with specified criteria set forth in Education Code Section 51461.

For more information, please visit the California Department of Education's State Seal of Biliteracy Web page. For information states with seal of biliteracy programs, please see the Seal of Biliteracy [] External link opens in new window or tab. Web site.

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Monday, May 11, 2020
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