Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

State Seal of Biliteracy FAQs


What is the State Seal of Biliteracy?

The State Seal of Biliteracy (SSB) is recognition by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for graduating 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.

How can I learn if our district’s graduates are eligible for the SSB?

The requirements for eligibility can be found in Education Code (EC) sections 51460-51464 [Assembly Bill (AB) 1142 External link opens in new window or tab.]. Please read the legislation in its entirety.

What kind of insignia will be provided by the California Department of Education (CDE)?

One gold, embossed, self-adhesive seal will be provided for each qualifying graduate. The seal was specially designed for the SSB designation and is to be placed on the graduate's high school diploma or transcript.

What information is the CDE requesting from local educational agencies (LEAs) in order to award seals?

The information the CDE is collecting can be found in the online Insignia Request Form on the CDE SSB Web page.

How can LEAs submit the information requested by the CDE?

The CDE will accept SSB requests through the online Insignia Request Form. The online Insignia Request form can be found on the CDE SSB Web page.

When is the deadline to submit the Insignia Request Form?

It is recommended that LEAs submit the online Insignia Request Form at least four weeks prior to the graduation date. This will allow sufficient time to mail insignias to the LEA and for the insignias to be affixed to the diplomas at the local level.

When will the CDE send the requested insignias to the LEAs?

The CDE will mail the insignias within two weeks of receiving the online request.

To be eligible for the SSB, in which of the four domains (listening, speaking, reading, writing) must candidates demonstrate competency?

In accordance with EC Section 51461, high school graduates who are candidates for the SSB must have attained a high level of proficiency in all the modalities (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) that characterize communication in that language. SSB criteria can be found in EC Section 51461 External link opens in new window or tab..

Is there a cost associated with the SSB?

Per EC Section 51464, no fee may be charged to LEAs or students who participate in the SSB program.

What is the benefit of having the SSB insignia on a diploma?

The SSB shows that graduates have accomplished measurable skills that demonstrate high levels of proficiency in English and another language.

How many students have received the SSB?

Each year, thousands of students receive the California SSB. For details by year, please visit the CDE SSB Web page.

Where can I find more information about the SSB?

The requirements for eligibility, and other important information can be found in Education Code (EC) sections 51460-51464 [Assembly Bill (AB) 1142 External link opens in new window or tab.] and on the CDE SSB Web page.

Does the SSB apply to American Sign Language (ASL)?

Yes. ASL is an SSB eligible language.

Can students qualify for more than one Seal of Biliteracy?

Yes. If an LEA has implemented a local Seal of Biliteracy program, students may qualify for both the local Seal of Biliteracy and the SSB.

Can a student earn the SSB for more than one foreign language?

Yes. The student may earn more than one SSB if they fulfill the requirements for the SSB in more than one foreign language. The LEA must request the appropriate number of seals to account for any students who qualify in more than one foreign language. The requirements for earning the SSB can be found on the CDE SSB Web page.

How can LEAs ensure they have a sufficient number of insignias to award seals to all students who meet the requirements for earning the SSB by the end of their senior year?

LEAs may estimate the number of students they believe will meet eligibility requirements by graduation based on most recent GPA and anticipated final grades. Seals are to be awarded only to those students who fully meet the eligibility requirements (EC Section 51461)

Students who are seeking to qualify for the SSB by passing the Advanced Placement exam with a score of three or higher will receive Advanced Placement exam results two to three months after graduation. Will these student be eligible to receive a seal after graduation? How can these students be recognized at their graduation ceremony?

Seals may be awarded after graduation. Some districts recognize these students as "candidates for the SSB" during graduation ceremonies. (EC Section 51460)

What courses constitute a four-year high school course of student in a foreign language? For example, does a native speaker who tests into year three of Spanish and completes year four of Spanish A-G requirement with a 3.0, qualify for the SSB?

In accordance with EC Section 51461(a)(3)(B), one way to show proficiency in a language other than English is, "successful completion of a four-year high school course of study in a foreign language. . ." LEAs define the structure, organization, and successful completion of a four-year high school course of study in a foreign language. The LEA may establish comparable rigor scenarios for the "four-year high school course of study in a foreign language" consistent with EC Section 51461. The student would also be required to meet all other criteria.

How have the requirements for eligibility for the SSB changed?

Passed in 2017, Assembly Bill (AB) 1142 External link opens in new window or tab. updates EC Section 51461(a)(2) to state that students must pass the California Assessment of English Performance and Progress (CAASPP) or any successor test, administered in grade eleven, at or above the "standard met" achievement level. This section had previously named the California Standards Test (CST) as the required assessment. AB 1142 also updates EC Section 51461(b)(1). The required assessment for students whose primary language is other than English was updated from the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) to the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC).

AB 1142 also updates EC Section 51461(a)(3)(B), adding the requirement that students seeking to earn the SSB by complementing a four-year high school course of study in a foreign language must demonstrate oral proficiency in the language comparable to that required to pass an Advanced Placement exam.

AB 1142 also updates EC Section 51461(a)(3)(C)(ii), stating that a pupil who seeks to qualify for the SSB through a language that is not characterized by listening, speaking, or reading, or for which there is no written system, shall pass an assessment on the modalities that characterize communication in that language at the proficient level or higher.

Can students who attend private school qualify for the SSB?

No. Private schools function outside of the jurisdiction of the CDE; therefore, they are eligible to receive the SSB. They can, however, establish their own Seal of Biliteracy program. For more information on establishing a Seal of Biliteracy program, please visit the Californians Together Web site External link opens in new window or tab..

How can I learn about other Seal of Biliteracy programs?

You may access more information on the Californians Together Web site External link opens in new window or tab..

How can I contact the CDE if I have questions?

For questions related to the State Seal of Biliteracy, contact the CDE Language Policy and Leadership Office by phone at 916-319-0845 or by e-mail at SEAL@cde.ca.gov.

Questions:   Language Policy and Leadership Office | SEAL@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0845
Last Reviewed: Thursday, December 14, 2017
Related Content
Recently Posted in English Learners

  • Language Acquisition Programs (added 24-Jan-2018)
    A notification template for local educational agencies to use and modify for the purpose of alerting parents of language acquisition program options.
  • Title III Authorized Use Scenarios (added 24-Jan-2018)
    This page provides examples, per topic, of authorized and unauthorized uses of Title III funds.
  • EL Roadmap Frequently Asked Questions (added 03-Jan-2018)
    FAQs that answer questions regarding the English Learner (EL) Roadmap. These questions will be updated as new information and resources on the EL Roadmap become available.