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More States Supporting Bilingualism With Special Seals on Diplomas

A small but growing number of states are promoting bilingualism among K-12 students by offering special recognition on high school diplomas for graduates who demonstrate fluency in two or more languages.

Oregon has been piloting a so-called "seal of biliteracy" in a handful of districts and will expand to offer the special recognition statewide for the upcoming school year.  Lawmakers in Washington state, New Mexico, and Louisiana approved bilingual seals earlier this spring. And several other states, Wisconsin, Utah, and Florida among them, are working on proposals for seals of biliteracy.

California was the first state to offer the seal and has since been joined by New York, Illinois, Washington, and Texas.

The push for the seals of biliteracy stems in part from the expansion of dual-language programs across public schools that bring both native English-speakers and English-language learners together into classrooms to learn all academic content in English and the target language.

Much of the credit for the spead of biliteracy seals goes to Californians Together, a small research and advocacy group for English-language learners. The nonprofit group conceived of the biliteracy seal in its home state and has been a strong advocate for other states to adopt a special recognition of students who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English. The seal is intended for all students, including English-language learners.

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