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Students Earning 'Biliteracy Seals' on Uptick in California

California's program to award students who master a second language is growing robustly, with nearly 25,000 high school graduates in the class of 2014 earning a "seal of biliteracy."

That's more than double the number of students who earned the seal in 2012, when California first began its formal recognition of biliteracy. That year, about 10,000 graduating seniors were awarded the seal. And last year, 19,000 students did so.

Just under 25,000 students had attained a high enough level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages (in addition to English). The vast majority of seals were earned by students who demonstrated proficiency in Spanish, followed next by French, Mandarin, Japanese, German, and Cantonese. Altogether, 40 languages were represented among the students who earned seals, including American Sign Language, according to the California education department.

California was the first state to establish a seal and several others have since followed, including New York, Illinois, and Washington.

Students who earn the seal receive a special designation on both their high school diploma and their transcripts. The seal is intended for all students, including those who are English-language learners.

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