Seal of Biliteracy

Dear SPS Parents and Guardians,

This letter is for members of the Stoughton Public Schools community as an explanation of a new program in our schools called the “Seal of Biliteracy.” On June 26, 2018 the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted regulations that describe the criteria that school districts must use to award the State Seal of Biliteracy on the diplomas and transcripts of graduating seniors. 

The purposes of the seal include:

  • Recognizing the value of language diversity

  • Providing employers with a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills

  • Providing universities with a method to recognize and give credit to applicants for the attainment of high-level skills in languages

  • Preparing students with skills that will benefit them in the labor market and the global society

  • Honoring the multiple cultures and languages in a community

An important goal of the Stoughton Public Schools’ World Language Department and English Language Education Department (ELE) is to adopt the principles of proficiency in second (or more) language instruction. Our focus is on what the students can do with the language and how much they know about a language. This is a progressive philosophy that is spreading across the nation and as such, Massachusetts has now joined over 40 other states in awarding a Seal of Biliteracy that certifies a student’s communicative ability in a second language to future schools and employers.

If your child is a native speaker or heritage speaker and has attained a high level of literacy in this native or heritage language, then they can apply to take a language proficiency test by submitting the attached form to a World Language Teacher or ESL teacher at the high school. If you would like to show proficiency in a language that is not offered in the Stoughton Public Schools and/or is not offered as a test through the state approved assessments, you can submit a portfolio that shows literacy skills in the language of your choosing. Information about the portfolio can be found here. https://sealofbiliteracyma.org/proficiency-assessment/

If your child is a native English speaker, then they can earn this seal by starting a second language early in their school career and staying with it as long as possible. Learning a second language is a complex cognitive process that takes a number of years to master. Mid April each year, we will offer our World Language learners and English Language Learners the opportunity to take the AAPPL (Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages) or STAMP exam. Since we need to order test tickets, students would need to complete an application stating their desire for this assessment. This exam would in no way affect your child’s grade. 

The exams are scored externally by certified raters and are reported separately for each of the four domains of language (listening, reading, speaking, and writing) to your child and your child’s teacher.

If you have any questions or would like your student to take the AAPL or STAMP test this year toward achieving the Seal of Biliteracy, please contact Dr. Brian Scanlan (b_scanlan@stoughtonschools.org) or Dr. Amy Quealy (a_quealy@stoughtonschools.org). We are very excited about this new initiative and the many benefits it will provide as well as doors this will open for our students.

Thank you.

John M. Marcus, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Seal of Biliteracy Letters