I. Clarify the Purpose(s) and Rationale

A first step towards implementing a Seal of Biliteracy or Pathway Award is to clarify your school, community, district or state’s purpose for giving the awards and to articulate the “frame” and rationale that will resonate in your community. In one community, the emphasis on 21st century skills and jobs may resonate most deeply. In another, emphasizing learning respect for diversity and bringing students together across communities may be the most powerful rationale.

The specific purposes and rationale lead to the creation of a policy. It is important that a governing body create the award through policy. This is what gives it the weight of a statement by the schooling system that the skills of bilingualism have value. It is this process that provides the opportunity for a community to articulate how and why language diversity is important.

The process of creating the policy might begin with assembling a Working Group or Task Force of district staff, teachers of English Learners and World Language teachers to think through how the award might work in their community, and who potential supporters might be. For example, in Anaheim Union High School District in southern California, a small working group drafted a policy statement tying the Seal of Biliteracy to a Board resolution for 21st century learning and to the district’s strategic plan for implementing 21st century education. The passage of policy establishing the award thus became part of a broader district commitment to education for the new century.

In San Francisco Unified School District the Board passed a resolution stating: “Our vision is to prepare students to become global citizens in multilingual/ multicultural world by providing every student the opportunity to graduate proficient in English and at least one other language through participation in a well articulated PreK 12 world language program.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District prefaced their policy establishing the Seal of Biliteracy with the following statement of purpose: “Biliteracy awards advance the district’s commitment that every student graduates prepared and equipped with the knowledge and skills to participate successfully in college, career, and a diverse 21st century society. Additionally, the awards build upon the rich linguistic and cultural assets of the district and communicate that mastery of two or more languages is an important skill that is advantageous in an ever shrinking global society.”