Michigan Seal of Biliteracy
The Michigan Seal of Biliteracy has been created to recognize high school graduates who exhibit language proficiency in English and at least one additional world language. The Seal may be awarded to any student receiving a high school diploma, a high school certificate of completion or a high school equivalency certificate and who has demonstrated Intermediate High proficiency on acceptable world language assessments and met the English Language Arts requirements for graduation or demonstrated proficiency on a validated test of proficiency for English Learners. The Seal has been created to encourage students to study world languages and embrace their native and heritage languages. The Seal will provide employers with a to identify individuals with strong language and biliteracy skills. The Seal may serve as an additional tool for colleges and universities to recognize applicants’ language abilities for admission and placement.
The Michigan Seal of Biliteracy requires students to meet the following criteria:
- Meet graduation requirements
- Demonstrate Intermediate High proficiency on world language assessments
Top 10 in 10
Michigan joins 27 other states and the District of Columbia in awarding a Seal of Biliteracy (Davin & Heineke, 2017). In Michigan’s journey to becoming a top ten performing state in ten years, awarding the Seal of Biliteracy aligns to the goals and strategies of this endeavor. This policy was developed with each of the seven goals in mind. Reference to the goals can be found in the Purpose and Rationale section of the policy.
Michigan’s Global Competitiveness
Globalization is a relatively new term, although the concept is thousands of years in the making (Stone, 2005).
Customers in 207 countries buy Michigan-made goods and services, and foreign-owned companies employ over 200,000 workers in Michigan (Business Roundtable, 2015). Although English is widely used in international trade, the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with colleagues and trade partners who speak other languages is crucial for Michigan’s competitiveness and economic growth. The Michigan Seal of Biliteracy fully aligns with the goal of global competitiveness.
In a recent survey of U.S. employers, 66% reported valuing foreign language skills in the hiring process, and 41% reported giving preference to multilingual job candidates (Damari et al., 2017). In Michigan, international trade-related jobs grew 17% from 2004 to 2014 while total employment declined 1% (Business Roundtable, 2015). There is also a growing need for bilingual employees across a wide range of occupations, regardless of educational requirements or salary (New American Economy, 2017). The Michigan Seal of Biliteracy serves as an endorsement to employers that a high school graduate enters the workforce with highly desired skills in more than one language.
Timeline for Testing a Student’s Proficiency
The Michigan Department of Education recommends that a student’s proficiency be tested for the purpose of awarding the Seal beginning his/her second semester of the junior year through the end of the first semester of the senior year. Note that students tested in their senior year may not receive test results until summer of their graduating year. As a result, the Seal will be awarded retroactively following graduation.