Posted by: SSU Lingua Franca | December 11, 2017

Seal Update: Massachusetts Is Going Blue!

Seal Update: Massachusetts Is Going Blue!

by Nicole Sherf

The Massachusetts House and Senate voted to pass the Seal of Biliteracy bill with only one no vote on Wednesday, November 15, 2017! Currently awaiting the Governor’s signature, it is a comprehensive bill called Language Opportunity for our Kids (LOOK) which opens the restrictive one-size-fits-all Sheltered English Immersion mandate for districts and includes a Seal provision to reward students for functional biliteracy through the Seal and we also have a stand-alone legislation for the Seal. This is a monumental piece of legislation for the foreign language, dual language and English language learner (ELL) teacher groups who sponsored it.

As I have described in Seal Updates over the past five years, the Seal of Biliteracy is a national movement to recognize students’ functional biliteracy in English and another language. Legislation has been enacted in 28 states and the District of Columbia since 2011, an amazing display of swiftness. In just eight years, we have watched the map which indicates the states that have enacted Seal legislation on, get bluer and bluer as more states join the movement, denoting that they have “Approved the State Seal” or passed the legislation. Massachusetts has remained a frustrating light green for the past five years meaning that we have legislation in the state that is “Under Consideration,” but that is soon about to change!

The legislative advocacy was a cooperative effort that will benefit all who value multilingualism as a vital college and career readiness skill. In particular, foreign language teachers and programs will benefit from the transformative effect that Seal implementation in a district represents. We are already seeing, in this third year of the pilot, the inter-district collaboration resulting from the process. When well adopted, participating in the Seal means that districts set proficiency targets, assess their students to see if targets are being met, and make any changes to teaching or programming to do better next year. It is an exciting process that focuses on what the student can do as a result of programming and related to

The Seal Pilot in MA has already created resources, pathways and templates for Seal implementation across the state, even as the legislation was being considered for passage. The Seal Workgroup Google Group currently has almost 90 members and at least 70 districts participating. In year two of the pilot, more than 700 Seals were awarded last spring.  We invite any district to become part of our Pilot by going to, watching our October 6 Webinar overview on the home page, joining our Seal Workgroup Google Group on the Pilot Page, and coming to our electronic GoToMeetings the fourth Monday of the month at 7PM. You’ll receive updates through the Google Group and can ask questions the same way. The more the merrier! Come join the movement!



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