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.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is pleased to announce a recent and important update regarding the Seal of Biliteracy. Recent legislation has been enacted which allows students who graduate in 2022 to satisfy the English criteria for the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy by fulfilling the English Language Arts (ELA) modified competency determination requirements for graduation.
Background: The Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy is an official designation that provides recognition of students who demonstrate proficiency in English and at least one other language. The LOOK Act requires students to demonstrate their proficiency in English by means of the Grade 10 English Language Arts (ELA) MCAS. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some students in the graduating classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 have experienced difficulties accessing the ELA MCAS. Last summer, Chapter 29 of the Acts of 2021 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." On Monday, December 13, 2021, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Immediate Covid-19 Recovery Needs, which extends this provision students who will graduate in 2022. In accordance, 2022 graduates who earn the modified competency determination in ELA will also satisfy the English language criteria for the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy.
Implications: School districts may award the State Seal of Biliteracy to 2022 graduates who meet all three of the following requirements:
The Department would like to extend our thanks to our partners at the Language Opportunity Coalition for their advocacy in this matter. Please direct any questions related to this update to Andy McDonie .
What's New for the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy?
Please follow the steps outlined below to enroll in the MA State Seal of Biliteracy on WBMS in the Department's Security Portal.
The links and materials below may be useful as you implement the Massachusetts State Seal of Biliteracy
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. Please note that districts are required to keep records of world language assessments for students who earn the State Seal of Biliteracy.
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.
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:
This list continues to grow. Check back for more updates.
Last Updated: February 23, 2023
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906
Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370
Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.