The Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project was coordinated by the Language Opportunity Coalition for three years from the 2015-16 school year through June 2018*. Participating schools and school districts followed the Coalition’s guidelines for the award, which were developed by Massachusetts educators based the national Guidelines for Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy and practices in other states.
This report is based on data submitted voluntarily to the Language Opportunity Coalition by participating schools and school districts at the end of the school year in 2018.
Districts Awarding the Seal of Biliteracy
- Year 1: 6 districts
- Boston, Falmouth, Framingham, Melrose, Wilmington, Winchester
- Year 2: 13 districts (6 continuing, 7 new)
- New: Brockton, Chelsea, Newton, Norwood, Pittsfield, Wayland, Westwood
- Year 3: 26 districts (13 continuing, 13 new)
- New: Acton-Boxboro, Arlington, Harvard-Bromfield School, Duxbury, Hamilton-Wenham, Hingham, Medford, Mendon-Upton, Monson, Salem, Sheffield, Tewksbury, Upton
Educators Participating in the Pilot
The “Seal of Biliteracy Massachusetts” Google Group was established in 2015 to facilitate communication between educators who were developing and managing the award at the local level. Currently, 192 educators from different districts and language programs (ESL, bilingual, dual language, and world language) participate in the group.
The award structure in the pilot project defined three tiers of the Seal of Biliteracy award (Silver, Gold and Platinum) with two additional pathway awards (Bilingual Participation and Bilingual Attainment and participation) which were award at the elementary, middle and high school level.
The goal of this multi-tiered structure is to reward different levels of language proficiency and emphasize the ongoing process of language learning. In addition, it promotes long-term and sustained language study. For example, a student can earn a lower level award in elementary or middle school and then continue their language development to earn higher level award at high school graduation.
2018 Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Awards
In 2018, the final year of the pilot, 26 districts made 1,339 awards. 446 were made to elementary or middle school students, and 893 awards were to high school students.
Seal of Biliteracy awards are made for proficiency in English and an additional world language. The world language can be language that is taught in the school district, or a language that the student has learned outside of school or in another country.
- Spanish was the most common world language in awards made in all districts.
- Other languages: French, Portuguese, Hebrew, Mandarin, French, Arabic, Marathi, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Polish, Latin, German, Italian, Tagalog, Urdu, Cantonese, Korean, Bengali, Arabic, Hausa, Thai, Russian, ASL, Hungarian, Dutch, and Luganda.
- Districts with most language variety were:
- Newton: 20 languages — French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Latin, Korean, Italian, Hebrew, Bengali, Arabic, Hausa, Thai, Russian, ASL, Hungarian, Dutch, Luganda, Swedish, Turkish, Greek
- Framingham: 9 languages — Portuguese, Hebrew, Mandarin, French, Arabic, Marathi, Urdu, Haitian Creole
Students earning awards participated in a variety of language programs including World Language, Dual Language, Transitional Bilingual, English as a Second Language (ESL), Sheltered English Immersion (SEI), and Online Middlebury Interactive Languages.
Almost half the districts reported making awards to 152 students identified as English Learners or Former English Learners, comprising 11% of total award recipients.
World language proficiency was assessed through a variety of assessment measures including STAMP, AAPPL, AP, Aprenda, LAS, ALIRA, portfolios, and years of education in the native country.
English language proficiency was assessed through several assessment measures including MCAS scores, ACCESS for ELLs, and portfolios.
* The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy was established under the LOOK Act of 2017 and will be implemented starting in the 2018-19 school year.