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Michigan Seal of Biliteracy

Diverse group of high schoolers walking down stairs on their way to class.

Michigan Seal of Biliteracy

The Michigan Seal of Biliteracy (MI-SoBL) 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. 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 way 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 MI-SoBL requires students to meet the following criteria:

  • Meet graduation requirements
  • Demonstrate Intermediate High Proficiency on world language assessments

Michigan's Top 10 Strategic Education Plan

Michigan joins 36 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, awarding the Seal of Biliteracy aligns to the goals and strategies of this endeavor. The MI-SoBL Policy was developed with each of the eight 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 MI-SoBL fully aligns with the goal of global competitiveness.

Career Readiness

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 2004-2014 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 MI-SoBL 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 the second semester of their junior year through the end of the first semester of their senior year. Note that students tested in their senior year may not receive test results until the summer of their graduating year. As a result, the Seal will be awarded retroactively following graduation.

MI-SoBL Toolkit



Informational Documents

The following documents are available for schools/districts to download and print for use at meetings or in schools:

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Michigan Seal of Biliteracy Application - Schools