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Superintendent Douglas Supports Seal of Biliteracy Legislation

21 January 2016   Alexis Burkhart
Superintendent Douglas Supports Seal of Biliteracy Legislation by Senator Carlyle Begay

(Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 21, 2015) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today applauded legislators, community members and the Arizona Department of Education staff for their tireless work to develop Seal of Biliteracy legislation in the form of Senate Bill 1239.

“I am so thankful for the many parties that came together to create this legislation, which recognizes students for their accomplishment in learning more than one language,” said Superintendent Douglas. “I would also like to send a very special thanks to Senator Carlyle Begay for his leadership on this bill. This legislation incentivizes our students to focus on mastering a language beyond English and steers our state in the right direction to establish Arizona as leader in world languages.”

The Seal of Biliteracy recognizes students who have attained proficiency in English and one or more world languages prior to high school graduation. A high school student who achieves 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 attract colleges and employers interested in multilingual graduates so that students have even greater career opportunities after high school.

"This legislation should receive bipartisan support because of the benefits it will create for Arizona students, including those in rural and tribal communities," said Sen. Carlyle Begay (R) LD-7. “I have seen firsthand that many Native American children grow up feeling lost and without a sense of identity because of 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 step in the right direction toward this goal."

“College entrance requirements often require more world language credits than our schools offer,” said Douglas. “In our current and future economy, knowing English and another language provides significantly improved employment opportunities.”

There are currently 13 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, therefore 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. Reichenbach was among the first group of students at CCUSD who received this recognition. Reichenbach earned an impressive three seals for her proficiency in Spanish, French and Mandarin.

The Seal of Biliteracy was one of the proposals in Douglas’ AZ Kids Can’t Afford to Wait! Plan, which was publicly announced on Oct.1, 2015. Douglas also calls for the increase and improvement of 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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