Every month, our Instruction Team hosts a public Instruction Committee meeting where we share the many areas of focus in Pre-K through 12th grade academics.
In the November meeting, we highlighted an exciting proposal to add the Seal of Biliteracy. This is a way to recognize the accomplishments of graduating seniors who demonstrate proficiency in two or more languages.
A Seal of Biliteracy taskforce was assembled at the end of the 2017-2018 school year as a result of Superintendent Robby Parker’s goal focused specifically on students becoming proficient in a second language: “The Superintendent will empower students for global success by developing a plan to achieve a goal of proficiency in a second language for 100% of our graduates.”
At the November 29 Instruction meeting, the taskforce co-chairs (Ms. Peggy Boynton, German Teacher and World Languages Content Lead at James Clemens High School and Ms. Angela Mooney, French Teacher and World Languages Department Chair at Bob Jones High School) shared the recommendation to add the Seal of Biliteracy.
The taskforce’s rationale for recommending the Seal of Biliteracy is as follows: (1) validate proficiency in two or more languages (2) motivate growth beyond the novice level (3) evaluate use of the language (4) develop readiness for college and career opportunities (5) model global citizenship.
The Seal of Biliteracy has already been adopted by 35 states and Washington D.C. with several other states in the process. Not only does the Seal of Biliteracy demonstrate a student’s accomplishment in becoming proficient in a second language, but it also supports workforce development needs. The New American Economy (2017) noted that “the demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled” from 2010 to 2015 where “job postings aimed at bilingual workers” increased from 240,000 to 630,000 opportunities.
Requirements for students seeking to earn the proposed Seal of Biliteracy include the following: (1) successful completion of all high school graduation requirements (2) English proficiency through successful completion of the Alabama state requirements (3) proficiency in a second language through a benchmark score on an approved assessment (i.e. AAPPL, ALIRA, AP Exam).
A student’s path to proficiency in a second language begins early in Madison City. It starts with exploratory Spanish opportunities in elementary and continues with introductory level opportunities in multiple languages (Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Latin) in middle school, followed by advanced level opportunities in multiple languages (Spanish, German, Latin, French) in 8th through 12th grades.
In the regular Board of Education meeting that followed the November Instruction Committee meeting, the taskforce co-chairs and students shared their enthusiasm for the proposed Seal of Biliteracy.
You could hear the excitement in the students’ testimonies as they shared their passion for learning a second language. Hearing the students’ excitement for studying languages and cultures, before a public audience, is the kind of outcome that makes any educator proud. The excitement we have seen from students and teachers supports our desire as a school system to continue expanding language opportunities in Pre-K through 12th grades.