St. Vrain offers a new program next year allowing students to graduate with a Seal of Biliteracy

While many students are unaware of this new opportunity, it has the potential of benefitting and showcasing students in a whole new way.

SVVSD Seal of Biliteracy poster hung around the walls of Mead High.

Since early 2018, the St. Vrain Valley School District has been trying to develop a Seal of Biliteracy program. While many students are unaware of this new opportunity, it has the potential of benefitting and showcasing students in a whole new way.

The Seal of Biliteracy program “…allows students to achieve a level of biliteracy (not to be confused with bilingualism) in two languages,” explains Mrs. Kathleen Freischlag, a Spanish teacher at MHS. Being bilingual means a person can speak fluently in two different languages while being biliterate means a person can read and write (and speak) fluently in two languages. “There are a variety of different criteria used to determine [student] levels in biliteracy. When students can complete their requirements, they actually receive an endorsement on their graduation diploma.”

This endorsement can be helpful when trying to get a job or trying to get into college because it shows that you are able to listen, speak, write, and read in English and a second language. District official Oakley Schilling explains that “…universities and colleges weigh heavily on being able to use, read, and write in another language. For example, at CU Boulder if they had two equal candidates and one had the Seal of Biliteracy and one did not have [it] they would favor the one with the Seal because universities really do value being bilingual.”

The class of 2020 is the first class that is eligible for the program. “Students who already have a level of bilingualism or students who are heritage speakers are awesome candidates for this program… Of course, it doesn’t have to be somebody who has a heritage background. So most students are candidates,” says Mrs. Freischlag.

As explained by Oakley Schilling, in order to earn the seal, students must meet certain criteria. If a student maintains a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher in their foreign language class all four years, their foreign language teacher can write a statement validation your biliteracy. Students need to earn at least a 470 on the English portion of the SAT to prove their literacy in English (or score a 3 or higher in the AP Literature or AP Language test).

There will be different steps to prove literacy based on what language the student has chosen. If a student doesn’t have a 3.0 or didn’t take four years of language, there are other things they can do to earn the seal like take the AP exam for that language or take an accuplacer test through the College Board.

For more information on specific requirements for this program, click here. If you’re interested in this program make sure to talk with your counselor.

It should also be noted that “[MHS is] starting Spanish for Spanish speakers next year to help students who are wanting to learn how to be literate in a language that they already have an advantage in,” says Freischlag.