For the first time, Washington state offers its high school graduates the chance to earn a Seal of Biliteracy, a new credential that shows they've mastered a language that they've learned at school or at home.
High-school graduates who speak more than one language can now prove it with diplomas bearing Washington state’s new Seal of Biliteracy.
The honor, given for the first time this spring, tells university admissions officers and future employers that graduates have passed tests demonstrating a high level of proficiency in English and another language.
Seattle Public Schools awarded the seal to 195 graduates this year, and Highline Public Schools awarded it to 150.
Washington is among eight states to offer the biliteracy seal. Others include California, New York and Illinois.
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Students can earn the seal by passing Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams, which cover languages typically taught in high school such as Spanish and French.
A third option gives students credit for languages they learned at home.
In Seattle, for example, more than the third of the seniors who earned the seal this year passed tests proving their competency in languages as diverse as Mandarin, Punjabi and Amharic.
Students in Seattle, Highline and other South King County districts had a head start through the World Language Credit Program, which awards high school credit for languages students learned at home. That’s an effort that’s part of a regional effort known as the Road Map Project.
Seniors can also earn the Seal of Biliteracy for proficiency in Latin, American Sign Language, Native American languages and other indigenous languages or dialects.