Language Opportunity Coalition Named Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalist

Boston, MA (May 3, 2018) The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) is pleased to announce that the Language Opportunity Coalition has been selected as a finalist for the 2018 Nonprofit Excellence Award in Advocacy. The Excellence Awards will be presented at MNN’s annual celebration of Nonprofit Awareness Day: A Celebration of Nonprofit Excellence presented by Citizens Bank, a statewide holiday that highlights the work of the nonprofit sector and raises awareness of causes throughout Massachusetts presented by Citizens Bank, at the Massachusetts State House on Monday, June 4.

“The Nonprofit Excellence Awards honor the important work being done by nonprofits in every subsector and region of Massachusetts,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. “We are excited to celebrate the effectiveness and diversity of these impressive finalists and the dedication and impact of the 33,000 nonprofits and more than half a million nonprofit employees in Massachusetts.”

The Excellence Award in Advocacy recognizes a nonprofit organization whose work has resulted in significant progress on a public policy or awareness issue in the last two years. The Language Opportunity Coalition was founded to bring together diverse organizations in Massachusetts to increase language learning opportunities for learning English, native, heritage, and world languages, and to ensure that all learners have equal access to a high-quality education and professional opportunities. The Coalition advocated for the expansion of bilingual program options for English learners through the LOOK Act, and opportunities for all students to pursue language study with the Seal of Biliteracy. The Coalition also coordinated the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project from 2014-2018, prior to approval by the state legislature.

Seal of Biliteracy Celebration at Muñiz Academy in 2016. (Photo: Boston Public Schools)

The LOOK Act with the Seal of Biliteracy was signed into state law on November 22, 2017, representing a major victory for the Coalition and bilingual education advocates across Massachusetts.

“We are honored to receive this recognition on behalf of the educators and stakeholders who collaborated in the work of this Coalition,” said Helen Solorzano, Steering Committee Member of the Language Opportunity Coalition. “We hope that this recognition will help spread the word about the Seal of Biliteracy, the value of multilingualism, and the opportunities for language learning in our public schools.”

This year, MNN’s independent panel of nonprofit and business leaders reviewed over 150 Excellence Award nominations that highlighted the incredible work of nonprofits across the state. The finalists range from large education providers to small arts organizations. These 27 nonprofits and individuals are improving communities across the Commonwealth, representing every region of Massachusetts from the Berkshires to the Cape. One finalist from each category (Advocacy, Collaboration, Innovation, Leadership, Small Nonprofit, and Young Professionals) will be announced as a winner during the Nonprofit Awareness Day: A Celebration of Nonprofit Excellence event presented by Citizens Bank on Monday, June 4.

Nonprofits across the state will also be engaging in a social media campaign on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram leading up to June 4 using hashtag #MAkingadifference to highlight their unique contributions to their communities.


Statement Opposing Proposed State Seal of Biliteracy Regulations

The Language Opportunity Coalition strongly objects to the proposed regulation 603 CMR 31.07 that establishes the award criteria for the State Seal of Biliteracy. We ask the Board of Education not to approve the regulation in the current form.

  1. Seal-of-Biliteracy-LogoThe proposed award criteria do not follow national guidelines for proficiency levels for the Seal of Biliteracy.
  2. The proposed award criteria for English proficiency based solely on 10th grade ELA MCAS scores will inequitably exclude English learners, former English learners, and other students.
  3. The proposed award criteria do not allow English Learners the same amount of time to develop language proficiency as world language learners: Proficiency in English has to be demonstrated in 10th grade, while proficiency in a world language does not need to be demonstrated until 12th grade.
  4. The proposed award criteria do not implement the multi-tiered award structure developed by the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project to promote and reward long term and sustained language study.

The award criteria defined for the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project (2014-18) were designed to be a motivational and inclusive award that recognizes the language attainment of as many students as possible. Our goal in supporting establishment of the Seal of Biliteracy is to 1) support and reward long-term and sustained language study of English, native languages, and world languages, and 2) recognize and reward the linguistic assets that multilingual students bring to our schools. The proposed regulations will exclude many students, especially students whose native language is not English.

The LOOK Act requires that the Department consider national standards and the local work of the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project in developing criteria for the award. Massachusetts is in a unique position because we can learn both from the local three-year Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project and from emerging research on implementation of the Seal of Biliteracy nationally. We ask that the Department consult with the Language Opportunity Coalition and members of the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project to revise the regulations to ensure equity and opportunity for all students pursuing language study.

View the Coalition’s full public comment submission on the LOOK Act regulations, including the Seal of Biliteracy.

Comment is open on the proposed regulations until May 18. See these links to give public comment.

Origins of the Seal of Biliteracy

Curious about the history and origins of the Seal of Biliteracy? This podcast describes the development of the Seal of Biliteracy in California and how the initiative spread across the country (including Massachusetts).

America the Bilingual Podcast – Episode 15: Sealed con un Beso

Seal-of-Biliteracy-LogoHe was rich, persuasive — and wrong. But Ron Unz succeeded in leading our most populous state down a dark path in the history of language education. Fortunately, his very success planted the seeds of change that are yielding a harvest of good in the nation today. Hear the origin story of the Seal of Biliteracy, which began in California and is now transforming America.

Something new in America: honoring bilingualism

The Seal of Biliteracy is a seal that high school seniors can earn on their diplomas and transcripts after demonstrating written and oral proficiency in English plus another language. In the five years since its creation in California, the Seal of Biliteracy has been adopted by a majority of US states.

The organization behind the innovation is Californians Together. Says Executive Director Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, “This is a not-very-labor-intensive reform movement that has captured the imagination and spread in a way that other education reform initiatives have not.”

Source: America the Bilingual: Episode 15: Sealed con un Beso

Hear the Story: Listen on iTunes by clicking here: America the Bilingual by Steve Leveen on iTunes or on SoundCloud here.

America the Bilingual is a storytelling podcast for people who think bilingualism is good for themselves, for their families, and for their country.  It is part of the Lead with Languages campaign of ACTFL — The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.


Updated Seal of Biliteracy Toolkit

Seal-of-Biliteracy-LogoThe revised Seal of Biliteracy Toolkit is now available for download!

The toolkit was revised and updated with input from schools that participated in the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project during the 2016-17 school year. The revised toolkit includes new resources for use in implementing the Seal of Biliteracy:

  • Additional models and examples of rubrics, portfolios and more
  • Updated table to elaborate on testing instruments for levels of award
  • Options for determining Seal award using testing in first years of implementation
  • Expanded FAQ section
  • List of Workgroup participants in the three years of the pilot

Link to download: Seal of Biliteracy Toolkit – Sep 2017 Revision




Webinar: The Seal of Biliteracy in Massachusetts

seal20medallions20final1Please join us for a complimentary Webinar on the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot implementation in Massachusetts (now in its third year). The webinar will discuss the creation of resources and supports for use by school districts, and an update on the legislative status of the state Seal of Biliteracy bill. The webinar is presented by MaFLA, MABE, MATSOL and the Language Opportunity Coalition.

The Seal of Biliteracy is a national movement to document and reward students for attaining biliteracy in two or more languages. Twenty seven states currently have enacted Seal of Biliteracy legislation and we hope MA will be next!

When?  October 10, 2018, from 6PM to 7PM

What?  The webinar will give an introduction of the national Seal of Biliteracy movement; an overview of the implementation in Massachusetts, including all the resources and experience gained from the third year of the pilot; and an update on the legislative status of the state Seal of Biliteracy bill.

How?  Register for Seal of Biliteracy Webinar on Oct 10, 2017 6:00 PM EDT at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Who?  Anyone who is interested is welcome to join us!

Presented by the Language Opportunity Coalition.

2017-18 Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project Update

Seal-of-Biliteracy-Logo56 schools or school districts are currently participating in the third year of the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project.

  • 2016: 10 schools/districts made over 300 awards.
  • 2017: 17 schools/districts made over 900 awards.

The remaining schools/districts are in the planning and implementation stages of the pilot. The next awards will be made at the end of the school year in 2018.

Find out more about the Seal of Biliteracy Pilot Project! The project is coordinated by the Language Opportunity Coalition.

School Districts/Schools

* Awards made starting Spring 2016
**  Awards made starting Spring 2017

Boston Public Schools**
Bulgarina School in Boston
Cambridge/Amigos School
Cape Cod Academy
Marlboro/Massachusetts International Academy
Martha’s Vineyard
North Middlesex Regional
Pioneer Valley Charter School
Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion School
Pioneer Valley Regional School*
Salem State University*
UP Education Network
Wilmington/High School**

In some school districts, the pilot began in individual schools before being implemented at the district level.