Student Scholarships, Awards & Special Programs

Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy

The State Seal of Biliteracy is an award provided by state approved districts that recognizes high school graduates who attain high functional and academic levels of proficiency in English and a world language in recognition of having studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. Our vision is to help students recognize the value of their academic success and see the tangible benefits of being bilingual. The State Seal of Biliteracy takes the form of a seal that appears on the transcript or diploma of the graduating senior and is a statement of accomplishment for future employers and for college admissions.

Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy

Update: Modified Competency Determination Retroactive for the Classes of 2020 and 2021

The state legislature has temporarily permitted the Commissioner to "establish an alternative means of demonstrating English language proficiency for the state seal of biliteracy for students in the class of 2020 or 2021." In accordance, graduates in the classes of 2020 and 2021 who have earned the modified competency determination in ELA satisfy the English language criterion for the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy. School districts can now retroactively award the State Seal of Biliteracy to class of 2020 and 2021 graduates who meet all three of the following requirements:

  • earned the modified competency determination in English language arts,
  • earned a score of intermediate high or higher on a DESE-approved world language assessment, and
  • satisfied all other graduation requirements.

2021-2022 Seal of Biliteracy Implementation Webinars

  • Preparing for the Seal of Biliteracy: September 22, 2021 @ 3:00.
  • Assessing for the Seal of Biliteracy: January 11, 2022 @ 3:00.
  • Reporting and Analyzing Results from the Seal of Biliteracy: April 5, 2022 @ 3:00.
  • Registration is available here.

Guidance and General Information
Assessments

In order to qualify for the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy, students must demonstrate proficiency in English and at least one other language. Provided below is a list of assessments of English Language Arts and World Languages and their corresponding minimum threshold scores that the Department has approved for demonstrating proficiency toward the Seal of Biliteracy and the Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction. Languages for which there is no approved assessment in all four areas qualify for portfolio assessment. Click on the link below for more information.

Implementation

The links and materials below may be useful as you implement the Massachusetts Seal of Biliteracy.

Reporting

Districts report the number of graduates who earned the Seal of Biliteracy through SIMS. This is the only required reporting procedure. Please contact your district's data administrator to report Seal-earning students.

The Department collects more specific data on a volunteer basis. Click on the link below to submit your district's voluntary data to help DESE serve you better.

  • SIMS Data Report (Required for all districts who are participating in the State Seal of Biliteracy)
    • To be completed by the district's data administrator
    • Please ensure the data administrator has the following information:
      • The names of all graduates who have earned the State Seal of Biliteracy, and
      • Whether those graduates earned the Seal of Biliteracy or the Seal of Biliteracy with Distinction.
  • Indicate that the Voluntary Data Report is due by 8/31/2021
Higher Education

The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy provides colleges and universities with a method to recognize and give credit to applicants for attainment of high level skills in languages. Currently nine public institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts provide language on their websites to provide credits for prior learning for students who have earned the Seal of Biliteracy. Those institutions include:

  • Bridgewater State University
  • Bunker Hill Community College
  • Cape Cod Community College
  • Massachusetts Bay Community College
  • Middlesex Community College
  • Mount Wachusett Community College
  • North Shore Community College
  • Northern Essex Community College
  • Salem State University

This list continues to grow. Check back for more updates.

Resources for Institutions of Higher Education

Last Updated: August 30, 2021

 
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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

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TTY: (800) 439-2370

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