Seal of Biliteracy
The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by the Anchorage School District to graduating seniors* in recognition of students who have attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. The Seal encourages students to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills our students attain, and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices. It takes the form of a seal that appears on the diploma of the graduating senior and is also documented on their official transcript.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than sixty-five million U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home—a number that has been growing decade by decade since the 1970s. Nevertheless, that number represents only 20.7 percent of the total population, and only a fraction of this cohort speaks, reads, and comprehends a second language well enough to use it in their everyday lives. The vast majority of American citizens remain monolingual.
While English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, teachers, scientists, and community members that proficiency in English is not sufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world, nor the needs of individual citizens who interact with other peoples and cultures more than at any other time in human history (Commission on Language Learning, 2017, American Academy of Arts & Sciences).
ASD seniors who earn the Seal of Biliteracy receive a qualification letter, a certificate signed by the Superintendent, and a bronze lapel pin. A gold seal is placed on the student's diploma and documentation of the Seal, by language, is recorded on the student's transcript.
*Only graduating seniors are eligible to apply for the Seal, primarily due to the English requirements. However, second language (STAMP, etc.) scores may be accepted from the student's junior or senior years. Second language assessment scores prior to the student's junior year are not accepted. If the student receives eligible scores their junior year and not their senior year, the junior year's scores will be used for qualification.
The Seal of Biliteracy is Designed to:
- encourage students to study languages
- certify attainment of biliteracy skills
- recognize the value of diversity
- provide potential future employers with a a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills
- provides colleges and universities with a method to recognize and give credit to applicants for attainment of high level skills in multiple languages
- prepare students with 21st century skills that will benefit them in the labor market and the global society
- strengthen intergroup relationships and honor the multiple cultures and languages in a community
Biliteracy refers to having a functional level of proficiency in each of two or more languages. The level of proficiency is not necessarily identical in each language.
Languages Currently Available
Current approved languages for spring 2020 include: Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, ASL, Chin (Hakha), Chinese (Mandarin), Czech, French, German, Haitian-Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hmong, Ilocano, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Samoan, Somali (Maxaa and Maay Maay), Spanish, Tagalog (Filipino), Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Yup’ik. (Questions regarding ASL or Latin should be directed to Brandon Locke).
(these additional languages are tentatively scheduled (not guaranteed) to be available in late spring of 2020: Chuukese, Marathi, Marshallese, Navajo)
Dates and Deadlines
In order for qualifying students to have the Seal of Biliteracy designation identified on their high school's graduation programs, testing must be completed by and applications must be submitted by Friday, April 10, 2020. Students may continue to submit applications and test with their school's Seal of Biliteracy testing proctor until the last day of school, however, applications that come in after April 10 will not be included on the high school graduation programs due to printing deadlines.
“Language and communication are at the heart of the human experience. The United States must educate students who are equipped linguistically and culturally to communicate successfully in a pluralistic American society and abroad. This imperative envisions a future in which ALL students will develop and maintain proficiency in English and at least one other language, modern or classical. Learners who come from non-English-speaking backgrounds should also have opportunities to develop further proficiencies in their first language.” -- World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages
Testing Contacts and Open Labs
All high schools have a building coordinator for the Seal of Biliteracy; please contact this individual for any questions regarding the Seal of Biliteracy at these schools:
- Bartlett: Brenda Hearn
- Chugiak: Kristi Senden
- Dimond: Betsy Paskvan
- Eagle River: Jennifer Riksen
- East: Angela Nishimura*
- Polaris K-12: Mira Starr
- Service: Becky Padgett
- South: Elizabeth Dick
- Steller: Rosalie Hohnstein
- West: Will Kimball
Students wishing to take an assessment should contact their school’s Seal of Biliteracy coordinator to arrange a date/time to test. Note that all students currently enrolled in a world language class will be taking the STAMP test during class time.
*Students who attend a charter school, AMCS, or King Tech and who wish to take an assessment for the Seal of Biliteracy are able to test at East High School during these open lab dates from 2:00-3:30pm: Tues., Jan. 28, Wed., Jan. 29, Tues., Feb 4, Wed., Feb 5, Weds, Mar. 18, or Thurs., Mar. 19. Open Lab testing occurs in Room 212, Upper Benson, at East High School. Questions regarding these open labs should be directed to Angela Nishimura at East.