The Seal of Biliteracy award recognizes students who can read, write, listen and speak in a high level of English and an additional language. It is a statement of accomplishment that helps to signal evidence of a student’s readiness for career and college and to engage as global citizens.
The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy was established in the LOOK Act of 2017. Massachusetts joins 36 states and the District of Columbia in offering the award.
There are two types of awards available in Massachusetts:
- The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy, overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- The Language Opportunity Coalition (LOC) Biliteracy Pathway Awards, overseen by the Language Opportunity Coalition, a coalition of English language, bilingual, and world language professional associations. It was developed to create a pathway for long term and sustained language study leading up to the state award.
Who can receive the award?
- All awards can be earned by students who speak English at home and have learned a world language, or by students who speak another language at home and have learned English.
- The MA State Seal of Biliteracy can be earned by graduates of Massachusetts public high schools.
- The LOC Biliteracy Pathway Awards can be earned by students at all grade levels in public, independent, or religious schools.
What language proficiency levels are recognized by the awards?
The award criteria is based on the ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Language Learners, from American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
- For the MA State Seal of Biliteracy, a student must achieve at Intermediate High proficiency level in the two languages to earn the Seal of Biliteracy or Advanced Low to earn the Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction.
- For the LOC Biliteracy Pathway Awards, a student must achieve a Novice to Intermediate Mid proficiency level in the two languages.
Which languages are included in the award?
- Students can receive an award for biliteracy in English and any world language (including American Sign Language). These include languages students have learned in school-based language programs, outside of school, or by living in another country.
How is language proficiency demonstrated?
- English proficiency is demonstrated through 10th Grade ELA MCAS (for the MA State Seal of Biliteracy) or through ELA MCAS or ACCESS for ELLs (for the LOC Biliteracy Pathway Awards).
- Proficiency in other languages is demonstrated through nationally recognized proficiency tests or through a portfolio for language with no standardized test.
What do students receive for the award?
- Students earning the MA State Seal of Biliteracy receive recognition from their school district and the award is documented with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- Students earning the LOC Biliteracy Pathway Awards receive recognition from their school district.
Does my school district offer the awards?
- All awards are voluntary for school districts and students. School districts can opt to participate in one or both award programs. Students can decide if they want to try to earn the award.
- Ask your local school district if the Seal of Biliteracy and Pathway awards are offered. If not, encourage them to start!
How can I find out more?
- Visit the Language Opportunity Coalition Biliteracy Pathway Award pages on this site at https://sealofbiliteracyma.org/biliteracy-pathway-awards/
- Visit the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy web page at www.doe.mass.edu/ell/biliteracy/