Statement on the Criteria for the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy

November 2, 2018

The Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education has announced his decision regarding the levels and criteria for the State Seal of Biliteracy, establishing a two tiered award, the Seal of Biliteracy and the Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction, starting at a minimum of Intermediate-High level of the ACTFL proficiency guidelines for world languages.

From: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
English Learner Education Update, October 30, 2018, slides 9-12

retrieved from

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The Language Opportunity Coalition celebrates the establishment of a State Seal of Biliteracy in Massachusetts with two levels of distinction, as well as the additional pathway to establish English proficiency for students graduating with an Educational Proficiency Plan. At the same time, we know there will be considerable disappointment that the Intermediate-Mid level was not included in the award, as recommended by the national Guidelines for Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy and established during the three-year Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project coordinated by our Coalition.

The Language Opportunity Coalition remains committed to our goal of recognizing multilingualism as an asset and promoting long term and sustained English language, native language, heritage language, and world language learning in Massachusetts. To this end, we will work with the educators in districts to offer biliteracy awards established in the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project that can be awarded locally in addition to the official State Seal of Biliteracy. 

  1. ‘Pathway” or multi-tiered awards for students at the lower grade levels (before 12th grade), in order to encourage students to continue with long term and sustained language student, with the ultimate goal of reaching a proficiency to be eligible for the State Seal of Biliteracy.
  2. An award for high school graduates that recognizes proficiency at the Intermediate-Mid proficiency level.

The Coalition also plans to continue our work supporting the educators who manage the awards, and promote and educate the public about the Seal of Biliteracy in our schools, local communities, and businesses. We look forward to continued collaboration with the educators who were involved in the pilot project, and future involvement of educators launching new award programs in their school districts.

Phyllis Hardy, MABE
Helen Solorzano, MATSOL
Nicole Sherf & Kim Talbot, MaFLA
Steering Committee
Language Opportunity Coalition & Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project