New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy
The New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) in recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in at least one language in addition to English by high school graduation. The NJDOE, pursuant to P.L. 2015, c. 303 enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey, established the State Seal of Biliteracy program in 2016 to help students recognize the value and the tangible benefits of bilingualism. This designation on a student’s high school diploma also provides employers and universities with a method of identifying bilingual candidates, students with 21st century skills, and those who have prioritized the study of other languages and cultures. Moreover, the State Seal of Biliteracy emphasizes the importance of both bilingualism, which facilitates improved communication and boosts the local economy, and cultural understanding, which promotes social acceptance.
How can my district let the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) know that we will participate in the Seal of Biliteracy program this year?
For school districts to denote participation in the State Seal of Biliteracy program, they should indicate the district biliteracy seal coordinator in the County/District/School (CDS) information system, located on the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) Homeroom webpage.
Who determines whether a student is eligible to receive the Seal of Biliteracy?
Local school districts are responsible for ensuring that students have met all of the assessment requirements necessary for being awarded a seal. The assessment requirements can be found below in the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency section.
Does the Seal of Biliteracy come with any high school credits?
No. The Seal of Biliteracy indicates recognition of a minimum proficiency level attained by a student in at least one language in addition to English. The Seal of Biliteracy is not awarded based on seat time or course completion requirements, and it is not tied to credits. Attainment of the seal does not provide credits toward graduation and does not act in any way as full or partial fulfillment for a student's being granted a diploma. Information about graduation requirements can be found in N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1.
Does the Seal of Biliteracy apply to American Sign Language (ASL) and classical languages (e.g. Latin)?
Yes. In New Jersey, ASL and classical languages are considered world languages.
When a student is interested in receiving a Seal of Biliteracy, who is responsible for the cost of the assessment(s)?
As participation in the Seal of Biliteracy program is a commitment on the part of both the district and the students, payment of the assessment costs is decided at the local level. Districts should remember, however, that a Seal of Biliteracy assists students in demonstrating that they are ready for success in both their college endeavors and their future careers.
Is there a fee to order the seal certificates?
No. There is no fee charged to order the seal certificates.
What kind of insignia or certification will be provided to students who earn the seal?
Students who are eligible for a Seal of Biliteracy will receive a certificate with the seal insignia noting their name and language(s) of attainment from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). In addition, school districts may wish to include the insignia "New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy" on student transcripts through their student data management systems (e.g. Genesis). Including a notation on student transcripts for a Seal of Biliteracy is at the discretion of the local district.
What is the difference between the seal and the insignia?
The seal is the image on the certificate. The insignia is the term "New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy" that is placed on the student's transcript. Districts may place the insignia on student transcripts once the local district is able to certify student eligibility for a seal through assessment scores. The assessment requirements can be found below in the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency section.
How can students demonstrate proficiency in English?
How can English Language Learners (ELLs) demonstrate proficiency in English in order to receive a Seal of Biliteracy?
ELLs may demonstrate English language proficiency by achieving a score of at least 4 on all sections (e.g. listening, speaking, reading, and writing) on Tier B or Tier C of the ACCESS for ELLs assessment during their junior year of high school. ELLs must also demonstrate proficiency in their native language in addition to English.
Which assessments can students use to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English?
The required minimum proficiency or score for acceptable assessments can be found below in the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency section. The list will be updated annually by the NJDOE. Please note that AP language and culture exams must be taken during the junior year as scores from assessments taken during the senior year do not arrive until after graduation.
Students who are seeking to use results from an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam taken during their final year of high school to qualify for a Seal of Biliteracy will receive the results two to three months after graduation. Will these students be eligible to receive a seal after graduation?
No. Local districts must have all language assessment qualifying data completed by dates referenced in the Seal of Biliteracy annual broadcast.
Can we submit scores from language assessments that were taken in 8th, 9th or 10th grade?
No. A Seal of Biliteracy denotes that a student has a specific level of language proficiency at the time of graduation. Therefore, only results from assessments that are administered in the second half of the junior year or at any point before the annually posted cut-off date in the senior year will be accepted.
Can we use locally developed assessments for languages that do not have other readily available assessments?
Assessments not already listed in the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency section must be submitted to the NJDOE for approval. The assessment list will be updated annually or when new assessments are approved.
Do English Language Learners (ELLs) have to demonstrate proficiency in their native language and English?
Yes. ELLs must demonstrate proficiency in English either through ACCESS for ELLs scores taken during the junior year or by meeting the English language arts graduation requirements. ELLs must also demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English through any of the assessments listed in the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency section.
In addition to demonstrating English proficiency through any of the NJDOE English Language Arts graduation requirements, students must demonstrate proficiency in another language through any of the assessments below. Click on the hyperlinked assessment titles to learn which languages are tested.
A level of I-3 is required on all four components of the assessment: Interpretive Listening, Interpretive Reading, Interpersonal Listening and Speaking, and Presentational Writing
Interpretive Reading Test
Available only to students currently enrolled in IB programs
Writing Proficiency Test (WPT)
Both tests must be taken
Writing Proficiency Test (WPT)
Both tests must be taken
Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI ASL)
Must achieve a score of 5 or higher in all components: Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
Must achieve a score of 5 or higher in all components: Writing and Speaking
For those languages that do not have an assessment available from the above approved list, please contact the New Jersey Department of Education to determine options for students with no other pathway for the Seal of Biliteracy.
September to February - Students take assessments
April - May - NJDOE reviews data submitted through Homeroom and NJ SMART
June - Certificates uploaded to NJDOE Homeroom*
*Even though the NJDOE certificates will not arrive until early June, districts may wish to recognize students in any way they see fit (e.g. medals, ribbons, ceremonies).
- District indicates participation by identifying the district Biliteracy coordinator through the CDS system. Directions for adding or changing the Biliteracy coordinator can be found in the CDS Manual for Regular School Districts and Charters. Questions about the CDS should be directed to CDShelp@doe.nj.gov.
- District Seal of Biliteracy coordinator completes the 2021-2022 State Seal of Biliteracy Participation form, indicating the World Languages that will be assessed and the assessments that will be administered.
- District administers NJDOE approved World Language assessments, see the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency section above, to graduating seniors and juniors in their second semester.
- District submits data via NJSMART indicating students’ biliteracy status (yes or no), World Language assessed, and the World Language assessment administered. Refer to NJSMART Student Data Handbook for Biliterate Element information.
- NJDOE verifies NJSMART data and uploads certificates for graduating seniors who have earned the State Seal of Biliteracy in NJHomeroom.
- District Seal of Biliteracy coordinator downloads certificates from NJHomeroom and distributes to graduating seniors.
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