Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | May 1, 2015

Seal of Biliteracy Update!

Seal of Biliteracy Update!

Nicole Sherf

A Seal of Biliteracy rewards high school graduates who attain a functional level of foreign language proficiency and English with a seal affixed to their diploma. Passage of a Massachusetts law that makes such a seal possible has been subject to various political currents, however, I am very hopeful that the bill that has been entered into consideration for the new legislative session that began in January will pass. This new bill is a no-cost legislation and because of the strong response to the call to contact your legislator in January, it has the support of a great number of co-sponsors.

A Seal of Biliteracy is important for Massachusetts because using levels of proficiency as a standard to reward performance can be transformative for programming. Programs that want to reward functional ability in the foreign language will focus more on how to achieve that than how well students memorize and conjugate. Additionally, proficiency is a more meaningful way to document student performance than the grades they received in their classes or ‘seat time’ as measured in years of study. With proficiency, we are interested in what students are able to do and say in the language in communicative and culturally authentic settings. I am leading a working group to develop the parameters to award the Seal at the various levels that include all the various levels of language teaching, and in which piloting of the use of the Seal is taking place in a few districts in the North Shore. I am happy to report that we are considering the college credit that would be awarded for a two-tiered Seal awarded on completion of high school as well as a Seal for attainment of a high level of proficiency upon completion of college. The proficiency levels are a national standard and a student receiving a Seal could make mention of it in their college application or resume under achievements and honors.

Thank you to all who sent messages to your state legislators during the short period between January 16 and February 4, at the start of this new legislative session when co-sponsors could sign up for new bills. Because of your participation, more than 900 messages were sent to legislators which resulted in 56 Co-Sponsors signing up on the House side and 16 on the Senate side. We have a strongly supported bill moving forward in the legislative process! See the list of legislators below:

HD 1698, to establish state seal of Biliteracy: Lead Sponsor, Rep. Kay Khan
Tricia Farley Bouvier, Brad Hill, James Arciero, Antonio Cabral, Thomas Calter, Gail Carridi, Marjorie Decker, Diana DiZoglio, Peter Durant, Carolyn Dykema, Lori Ehlrich, James Eldrige, Sean Garballey, Colleen Garry, Ellen Story, Aaron Vega, Kenneth Gordon, Jonathan Hecht, Paul Heroux, Mary Keefe, Tim Madden. Paul McMurtry, David Muradian, Angelo Puppolo, David Rogers, Dennis Rosa, Jeffrey Roy, John Scibak, William Galvin, Patricia Jehlen, Louis Kafka, Denise Provost, Paul Brodeur, Claire Cronin, Michael Day, Marcos Devers, Denise Garlick, Susan Williams Gifford, Kate Hogan, Peter Kocot, Barbara L’Italien, Chris Walsh, John Mahoney, Shauna O’Connell, Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Keiko Orrall, Dan Ryan, Tom Sannicandro, Frank Smizik, Thomas Stanley, Paul Tucker, Brendan Crighton, Ryan Fattman, Bradley Jones, Jason Lewis, and Timothy Toomey
SD 1012, to establish state seal of Biliteracy: Lead Sponsor, Karen Spilka
Angelo Puppolo, Lori Ehrlich, Joan Lovely, Michael Moore, Thomas Calter, Carolyn Dykema, Sonia Chang-Diaz, Thomas McGee, Thomas Stanley, Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Barbara L’Italien, Susan Williams Gifford, James Arciero, Bradley Jones, Timothy Toomey, and Sal DiDominico

What’s next? Please follow up with your legislator if you see his or her name on the list and tell them how appreciative you are of their support of this important legislation! If you have any questions, please contact Nicole Sherf, MaFLA’s Advocacy Coordiantor, at

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