They say a picture speaks a thousand words. That notion also holds true for State Seals of Biliteracy, which recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English.
California led the way nationwide in adopting the seal (in 2011). Indiana became the ninth state to do so during the current legislative session.
This excerpt from an NPR story has more:
Beyond shedding a more positive light on bilingualism, proponents say the seal allows employers to distinguish between people who can get by in another language from those who are truly fluent.
Each state determines who gets a seal, but several national language organizations have created guidelines. Recommendations include: passing the AP exam, the International Baccalaureate exam or the Standards-Based Measurement of Proficiency.
Today, 74% of students who earn these seals are bilingual in Spanish. More than 165 school districts are currently granting the award.
One big question about the value of the seals is whether employers care about them. UCLA professor Patricia Gándara explored that question in a 2014 study. She surveyed 289 California employers, and found that they overwhelmingly prefer hiring a multilingual person. And, they said, they would favor someone with a certification that proves it.
Kruse, the Indiana bill’s author, says the seal goes beyond the obvious choice of speaking Spanish and English.
“A lot of businesses want to know, ‘Do you know Chinese? And how do I know you know?’ And you can have your certificate as verification.”