AUGUSTA — During a special announcement at the Maine State House Oct, 29, Commissioner Robert G. Hasson Jr of the Maine Department of Education announced a new opportunity called the Seal of Biliteracy that will be available to qualifying students upon graduation, starting in June of 2019.
The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given at graduation in recognition of students who have studied and attained a high degree of skill in English and at least one other language by high school graduation. For the first time, Maine will be offering all students an opportunity to graduate with the Seal in June 2019. The Seal seeks to encourage students to pursue biliteracy, recognizes the positive cognitive and academic benefits of being bilingual, and can serve as evidence of academic and workplace readiness.
There are two pathways to earn the Seal of Biliteracy. To qualify, all students must maintain a high degree of skill in their first language. Students, whose first language is English, can earn the Seal by attaining a high degree of skill in another language. Students whose first language is not English, can earn the Seal by attaining a high degree of skill in English.
In previous years, the Seal of Biliteracy has been offered to students in Portland Public Schools thanks to the work of Carlos Gomez, Director of Language Development. This Department of Education initiative will provide the opportunity to every student in Maine. The Seal of Biliteracy started in California in 2008 and is now offered by 32 states and the District of Columbia.
Earning the Seal of Biliteracy comes with tangible academic and workplace benefits for students. Those students who choose to pursue post-secondary education can show the Seal of Biliteracy designation to select universities to earn college credit. For those students who choose to enter the workforce after graduation, the Seal brings potential employers attention to the additional work ready skills they possess.