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Miami-Dade Schools to Offer Seal of Biliteracy

Students in the Miami-Dade schools in Florida who master two or more languages will earn special recognition that will appear on their transcripts.

The district's school board voted this week to allow students from all the district's high schools, starting with class of 2016 graduates, to earn the vaunted "seal of biliteracy," a recognition for multilingual graduates that is growing in popularity across the county. Graduates of the class of 2016 will be eligible.

To earn the seal, Miami-Dade students must:

  • Complete the English requirements for graduation with a grade point average of 2.0 or above;
  • Earn a level 3 or above on the 10th grade statewide standardized test, Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, in reading/English language arts;
  • Complete four credits of sequential high school world language instruction with a grade point average of 3.0 or above in those courses;
  • Demonstrate competency in one or more languages other than English by passing a world language exam developed by: International Baccalaureate; Advanced Placement; or Cambridge Advanced International Certificate.

"The purpose of the Seal of Biliteracy is to encourage students to study languages and provide employers with a method of identifying an individual who has language and biliteracy skills, and promote world language instruction in public schools," said school board Chairwoman Perla Tabares Hantman, who proposed the policy change.

Miami is the latest city to offer the special recognition for students. Chicago's program, which was offered to graduates at 20 high schools this past school year, will expand citywide for  2015-16. The District of Columbia schools and a growing number of states also offer the seal of biliteracy. The state of Florida does not.

Four national professional organizations have banded together to draft recommendations for the seal of biliteracy. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages; the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages; the National Association for Bilingual Education; and the TESOL International Association, the organization for teachers who specialize in working with English-learners, developed the recommendations in this five-page document.

The groups sought to offer state lawmakers and education officials a guide for best practices to "ensure consistency in the meaning" of the recognition. The recommendations include allowances for students who are literate in Latin and Classical Greek, American Sign Language, and Native American languages.

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