The pilot year for Missouri’s Seal of Biliteracy (Missouri Seal) has been successful, with 163 Missouri Seals awarded to graduating seniors who have demonstrated proficiency in English and any of the world’s languages, including sign language. Here is the breakdown of Missouri Seals earned during the 2017-18 school year:
- 129 Spanish
- 12 Distinguished Spanish
- 3 German
- 1 Distinguished German
- 12 French
- 1 Mandarin
- 5 Russian
More Missouri Seals may be awarded for the pilot year. Some school districts are waiting for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) test results to be published.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) formally adopted the Seal of Biliteracy in October 2017, becoming the 28th state in the country to make the award available to local school districts. Several Missouri universities have provided incentives through credits for prior learning, and many businesses have formally endorsed the Missouri Seal as a potential career benefit.
“Not only has bilingualism been shown to improve cognition, behavior and problem-solving, it can lead to additional career opportunities when the students enter the workforce,” said Dr. Blaine Henningsen, assistant commissioner in DESE’s Office of College and Career Readiness.
In the pilot year, 35 school districts, two charter schools and two private schools completed the application process and were granted approval to award the Missouri Seal.
“The Missouri Seal is intended to encourage English speakers to study a foreign language and culture as well as non-native English speakers to acquire high levels of English and maintain their mother tongue,” says Ryan Rumpf, DESE’s director of English Language Development and World Languages. “We are excited about the large number of participating schools during the pilot year and hope to increase the number greatly next year.”
As the program enters the second year, DESE encourages more districts to adopt the program locally and expand the award offerings to lower grade levels. In addition to the Missouri Seal earned at graduation, local school districts may also adopt Pathway Awards to encourage language study at other milestones in pre-K through grade 12.