A Special Distinction for Several FHS Students


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.

Laura Evans, Director of World Languages for the Franklin Public Schools explains that the Seal of Biliteracy (SoBL) is a state initiative that began in 2017 when Governor Baker signed the LOOK Act, which in part established a state SoBL for students who have attained a high level of proficiency in English and another language by high school graduation. It is a formal language certification and the recognition of attaining biliteracy that becomes part of a student's high school transcript. “Massachusetts school districts choose to opt into this opportunity,” she said.

There are two different levels of the SoBL: SoBL and SoBL with distinction, which denotes a higher level of language proficiency in both a student's English and non-English language. The ELA MCAS test is used for all students to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in English; there are qualifying ELA MCAS scores determined by the MA DESE. In order to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English, students take a validated test of proficiency that has been pre-determined by the state of MA. That test assesses all relevant skills of that language (listening, reading, speaking, writing, signing).

“In the town of Franklin, we have more than 30 languages other than English spoken in the homes of our students,” Evans explains. Additionally, students learn French, Latin and Spanish as they matriculate through FPS. The SoBL recognizes the linguistic skills of our students and community, it opens doors to post secondary opportunities, and it validates a family's home language and culture as an important asset.

Evans has posted a presentation sharing what SoBL students had to say about how multilingualism has contributed to their identity.

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