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New York May Join Calif. in Offering 'Seal of Biliteracy'

New York lawmakers are weighing a proposal that could make the state the second in the nation to formally recognize graduating seniors who master a second language.

A Democratic lawmaker from the Bronx has introduced a bill—modeled on legislation that was approved last year in California—that would establish a "seal of biliteracy." The seal would be affixed to diplomas and high school transcripts and issued to graduates who can demonstrate fluency in English and at least one other language, including American Sign Language.

In California—the first state to establish a seal—more than 10,000 seniors in the class of 2012 graduated with the new designation on their diplomas, according to Tom Torlakson, the state schools chief. The vast majority of graduates earned the seal by demonstrating proficiency in Spanish, while the other leading second languages were French, Mandarin, Japanese, Cantonese, and German.

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