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Seal of Biliteracy Coming to D.C. Schools

This post first appeared on the Learning the Language blog

The District of Columbia public schools will offer a special seal for the diplomas of bilingual high school graduates.

The D.C. public school system is among a growing number of districts and states that offers special recognition on high school diplomas for graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages. The recognition will also be noted on the students' high school transcript.

To earn the seal, D.C. students must demonstrate "cultural and communicative competency" in English and another language through completed course work and test results, according to a release from the district.

The push for recognition stems in part from the nationwide expansion of dual-language programs that bring native English-speakers and English-language learners together into classrooms to learn academic content in English and the target language.

A number of schools in the D.C. public school district offer dual-language programs. The Washington Post reports that schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson expanded funding for foreign language classes in schools, "mostly in the form of introductory level classes."

Libia Gil, the head of the U.S. Department of Education's office of English-language acquisition, praised the district's "commitment to recognize" students who are literate in multiple languages.

"We challenge our schools and communities to invest in our future leaders with opportunities for developing biliteracy or multi-literacy skills," Gil said in a statement.

Earning the seal could give students an advantage, opening the door for college scholarships, internships, and jobs that require proficiency in a foreign language, educators say.

"These abilities are strong assets in today's global society and will support their success throughout their entire lives," Henderson said in a statement.

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