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Shoreham-Wading River introduces state Seal of Biliteracy program

Shoreham Wading River School district has joined over 60 other districts on Long Island in offering the Seal of Biliteracy to their students.

The Seal of Biliteracy is a formal recognition of students who have studied and obtained a high proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. Students who obtain the seal and compete the requirements set by the state will have the seal on their diplomas and the recognition will be listed on their final transcripts upon graduation.

Nicole Waldbauer, director of humanities and director of the program at Shoreham-Wading River, said it was a joint effort to bring it to the school.

“It was kind of a joint effort through our district’s strategic planning. We were looking at ways to broaden the World Language Program and just bring about a little more cultural awareness,” she said.

Ms. Waldbauer said the school currently has 26 students that they will be evaluating for the seal, with eight of those students being seniors.

“You can start working toward the seal, as a sophomore or junior; you can only be awarded the seal in your senior year,” Ms. Waldbauer said.

According to the New York State Education Department, for students to earn the seal they must have completed all requirements for graduating with a state regents diploma and earn three points from the English criteria and three points from the World Language criteria.

Students can earn those points in various ways and the school will work through the criteria with each student because the program is very individualized, according to Ms. Waldbauer.

“It’s very student-centered,” she said. “There are different pathways that a student can take. It’s not like a ‘one size fits all’ way to achieve this.” 

Students can take courses, tests and submit a culminating project to accumulate points and show proficiency for speaking, listening, reading and writing in both English and a world language of their choice.

To be able to offer and award the seal to their students, the state requires the district to read through the New York State Seal of Biliteracy handbook, designate a seal coordinator and establish a biliteracy committee.

The district has to submit three required forms to the state education department each year to continue to offer the Seal of Biliteracy. The first form is the school notification form, due Dec. 1 each year, which identifies student subgroups in the district eligible to pursue the seal. 

The culminating project notification form is due March 15 and notifies the state education department of the projects that will be presented by students and the languages they will learn. 

The last is the End of Year Data form, due May 15, which provides the education department with the demographic information on successful candidates as well as the criteria they met to earn the seal.

District Superintendent Gerald Poole emphasized that the seal will serve the students of Shoreham-Wading River long after graduation and said that he appreciated the hard work of the staff that makes it possible for students to receive this recognition.

“The seal will demonstrate to employers and colleges that these students are biliterate,” Mr. Poole said. “I am very grateful to the team of educators in our district who developed the program on behalf of our students.”

The Seal of Biliteracy program was started in New York State in 2012. New York State was the second state in the country to implement the program. It has since been adopted by most states.