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The Seal of Biliteracy Comes to Mississippi

Updated: Oct 17, 2019

The Magnolia State becomes the 37th state to offer students the Seal of Biliteracy on transcripts.

JACKSON, MS – Last Thursday, the Mississippi State Board of Education voted to approve the Mississippi Seal of Biliteracy Policy and Mississippi Seal of Biliteracy Guidelines at the local level and guidance on the process of awarding and recognizing students who have attained proficiency in one or more World Languages and English by high school graduation.

"The Mississippi Foreign Language Association (MSFLA) has been strongly advocating for the importance of creating proficient language speakers to help increase international investment in our state, as well as increasing exports," said Mr. Edgar Serrano, Executive Director of the teachers' association. "Currently 21% of the jobs in MS are tied to trade, 12% of the state GDP is tied to exports to Canada, Mexico, and Panama. A second language is also crucial for our national security, social justice, and diplomacy."

Dr. Bill Rivers, Executive Director of JNCL-NCLIS, collaborated with a panel of local, regional and national experts to establishing the guidelines and example policies outlined in the final reports. "The initiative and passion behind the efforts of Mr. Serrano, MSFLA, the Board of Education and so many others demonstrate how this grassroots movement became a national tidal wave. JNCL-NCLIS is proud to be able to support Mississippi

The purpose of the Mississippi Seal of Biliteracy policy is to establish minimum criteria for Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in awarding Seals of Biliteracy. The purpose of the Mississippi Seal of Biliteracy Guidelines is to provide assistance, examples, and resources to local school districts on the process of awarding and recognizing students who are eligible to receive a Seal of Biliteracy. Participation in the Mississippi Department of Education's Seal of Biliteracy is determined by each LEA and will begin during the 2019-2020 school year. Recognition for demonstrating a level of biliteracy shall be indicated on the final high school transcript for students.

Advocates say the Seal allows students to effectively demonstrate attainment of biliteracy to employers and postsecondary institutions, and it signals a student's readiness for college and career and for engagement as a global citizen.

Although LEAs that participate are not reimbursed for any costs associated with the Seal program, there is federal legislation that seeks to lighten the load. The Biliteracy Education Seal and Teaching Act (The BEST Act, H.R.3119) offered by California Representative Julia Brownley, would create a multi-year competitive grant program for states looking to establish, implement or expand their Seal of Biliteracy program, but has so far stalled in Congress. Learn more about the BEST Act.

To read more about the Policy and the State Guidelines, please visit the links below:

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