Chapter 271 of the Laws of 2012 (Section 815 of Education Law) established the State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages in addition to English. The NYS Seal of Biliteracy will be awarded by the Commissioner to students who meet criteria established by the Board of Regents and attend schools in districts that voluntarily agree to participate in the program. The Seal of Biliteracy will be affixed to the high school diploma and transcript of graduating pupils attaining Seal criteria and must be made available to students at no cost.
New York has become the second state to implement a Seal of Biliteracy program. California was the first state to establish a program, with its legislation becoming effective January 1, 2012. In the first year of implementation, California awarded its Seal to more than 10,000 graduating high school students who demonstrated proficiency in more than 40 different languages. A number of districts in New Mexico have also developed a Seal of Biliteracy program, including the largest district in the State, the Albuquerque Public Schools. The Albuquerque Public Schools’ Bilingual Seal is currently offered only to students demonstrating biliteracy in English and Spanish; however, the district is exploring how to expand the program to languages spoken by Native American communities.