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home : news : state news free February 28, 2020

12/21/2019 10:33:00 AM
More than 6,000 students earned the State Seal of Biliteracy
Participation in the program has grown year-over-year as the demand for bilingual employees has increased across the country

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) announced today that 6,217 high school students in the Class of 2019 have earned the State Seal of Biliteracy, which means they demonstrated a high level of proficiency in both English and another language, and 2,876 students have earned the State Commendation Toward Biliteracy, which indicates that they made significant progress toward achieving biliteracy. 461 more students earned the Seal this year compared to last year.

Participation in the program has continued to grow year-over-year as the demand for bilingual employees has increased across the country. Demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled from 2012 to 2017, according to the bipartisan research and advocacy organization New American Economy.

The program encourages both native English speakers and native speakers of other languages to become bilingual. Students earning the Seal receive a designation on their diploma and transcript, allowing them to display their abilities to colleges and potential employers. State law requires all public universities and community colleges in Illinois to award world language course credit to students who earn the Seal. Many private colleges and universities offer course credit to Seal recipients as well.

“Biliteracy prepares students for college and career opportunities in our global economy. Our communities at home in Illinois also benefit from individuals who can facilitate connection across languages and cultures,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I.. Ayala. “I congratulate and celebrate all of the Seal and Commendation recipients in the Class of 2019 for their significant accomplishments. I encourage all high schools to opt into the program to offer students the opportunity to showcase their language abilities and to make Illinois number one in producing bilingual graduates.”

Students in the Class of 2019 earned the Seal or Commendation in 27 different languages, including Arabic, Spanish, and Mandarin – the three languages that employers increasingly look for from job candidates. The students represent 226 schools in 92 school districts.

Illinois became the fourth state in the country to adopt the Seal of Biliteracy in the 2014-15 school year. Any public-school district may opt into the program by notifying ISBE no later than 45 calendar days prior to the issuance of any Seals or Commendations. Nonpublic schools also may participate beginning Jan. 1, as the result of a new state law expanding the program. Nearly 30,000 Illinois students have earned a Seal or Commendation since the program started.

Learn more about Illinois’ State Seal of Biliteracy at

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