Iowa Seal of Biliteracy Guidelines
The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by a district to recognize students who have attained proficiency in two or more languages, one of which is English, by high school graduation.
Governor Kim Reynolds signed SF475 into law during the 2018 legislative session. The language of the bill is as follows: Sec. 17. Section 256.9, Code 2017, is amended by adding the following new subsection:
Develop and administer a seal of biliteracy program to recognize students graduating from high school who have demonstrated proficiency in two or more world languages, one of which must be English. Participation in the program by a school district, attendance center, or accredited nonpublic school shall be voluntary. The department shall work with stakeholders to identify standardized tests that may be used to demonstrate proficiency. The department shall produce a seal of biliteracy, which may include but need not be limited to a sticker that may be affixed to a student's high school transcript or a certificate that may be awarded to the student. A participating school district or school shall notify the department of the names of the students who have qualified for the seal and the department shall provide the school district or school with the appropriate number of seals or other authorized endorsement. The department may charge a nominal fee to cover printing and postage charges related to issuance of the biliteracy seal under this subsection.
Why is the Seal of Biliteracy Important? Being able to know and use more than one language is a critical skill for the 21st century. The seal of biliteracy:
- Values language as an asset
- Recognizes the value of language diversity & cultural identity
- Prepares students with 21st century skills that will benefit them in the labor market and the global society
- Provides employers, universities, and grant/scholarship providers with a method to recognize applicants for their dedication to attainment of biliteracy
What is Language Proficiency? The seal of biliteracy focuses not on “seat time” or completion of language courses; it relies on demonstrating proficiency in a given language. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) outlines the meaning of language proficiency, and they use the terms novice, intermediate, advanced, superior and distinguished to indicate levels of proficiency. For the purposes of this seal, a score that mirrors the ACTFL intermediate level is considered proficient. To learn more about how ACTFL outlines levels of language proficiency see the appendix.
Requirements to Demonstrate Knowledge of English To be eligible to be awarded the Iowa Seal of Biliteracy, each student shall demonstrate proficiency in English. The requirement must be met during the course of each student's high school years. See your counselor for a list of the assessment options that a student may choose from to demonstrate proficiency in Englsh.
Who do I contact if I have questions about the Seal of Biliteracy? First start with your school counselor. Further information can be found by contacting the Iowa Department of Education’s world language consultant Stefanie Wager at firstname.lastname@example.org.