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Students Win With Seal of Biliteracy Legislation

AZ School Superintendent Diane Douglas

AZ School Superintendent Diane Douglas

Sedona AZ (May 5, 2016) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today celebrated the Arizona Legislature’s final passage of Senate Bill 1239, which creates a Seal of Biliteracy to help recognize the achievements of multilingual students.

“This bill’s successful passage is a victory for students in Arizona who deserve recognition for their accomplishment in learning more than one language,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I commend Senator Carlyle Begay for his leadership on this bill and the many parties who helped transform a concept from my AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! plan into a reality.”

The Seal of Biliteracy was created to recognize students who have attained proficiency in English and one or more world languages prior to high school graduation. High school students who achieve the requisite level of proficiency in English and one or more languages would qualify for the seal to be affixed on their high school transcript and diploma. The intent of the seal is to help students attract the interest of colleges and employers and ultimately give graduates access to greater career opportunities.

“I entered office with a goal to open doors for students and the Seal of Biliteracy does just that,” said Douglas. “This legislation incentivizes our students to focus on mastering a language beyond English and steers our state in the right direction as we work to establish Arizona as leader in world languages.”

“I commend my fellow legislators for their bipartisan support of this bill and their acknowledgment of the genuine benefits it will create for Arizona students, including those in rural and tribal communities,” said Sen. Carlyle Begay, R-Ganado. “I have seen firsthand that many Native American children grow up feeling lost and without a sense of identity due to a lack of exposure to their rich history, culture and language. Giving these children the opportunity to learn their tribe’s native language in school instills a sense of pride in students and their whole tribal community. We want our students to be leaders, not bystanders, in the global workforce. Establishing a state Seal of Biliteracy is a strong step toward this goal.”

There are currently 17 states that have approved a statewide Seal of Biliteracy.

Last year Cave Creek Unified School District (CCUSD) became the first district in Arizona to offer a Seal of Biliteracy. Forty-one graduating seniors in Cactus Shadows High School’s Class of 2015 received a Seal of Biliteracy affixed to their diplomas and annotated on their transcripts.

“A state Seal of Biliteracy will recognize Arizona students who have demonstrated multilingual skills by high school graduation, thereby reinforcing the importance of becoming a competent participant in the global economy,” said Christina Ladas, World Language Coordinator for CCUSD.

“Not only did the Seal of Biliteracy provide me with personal gratification, but it was also a useful and easy tool to show my language proficiency to employers, university admissions offices and university language department chairs,” said Dominique Reichenbach. She was among the first group of students at CCUSD who received this recognition and earned an impressive three seals for her proficiency in Spanish, French and Mandarin.

Arizona State SealThe Seal of Biliteracy was one of the proposals in Superintendent Douglas’ AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! Plan, which was publicly announced on Oct.1, 2015. In the plan, Douglas also called for increased and improved world language instruction in lower grade levels and second language graduation requirements as an approach to establish Arizona as a leader in world languages.

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