Establishes State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of bilingual proficiency.
2. The State Seal of Biliteracy is established to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more foreign languages in addition to English. The State Seal of Biliteracy shall be awarded by the local board of education to graduating high school seniors who meet the criteria established by the State Board of Education pursuant to subsection a. of section 3 of this act. School district participation in this program is voluntary.
The purposes of the State Seal of Biliteracy are as follows:
a. To encourage students to study languages;
b. To certify attainment of biliteracy;
c. To provide employers with a method of identifying people with language and biliteracy skills;
d. To provide universities with a method to recognize and award academic credit to applicants seeking admission;
e. To prepare students with 21st century skills;
f. To recognize and promote foreign language instruction in public schools; and
g. To strengthen intergroup relationships, affirm the value of diversity, and honor the multiple cultures and languages of a community.
3. a. The State Board of Education shall promulgate rules pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), establishing criteria for the award of a State Seal of Biliteracy. The criteria shall require a student to demonstrate proficiency in English by meeting State high school graduation requirements in English, including through State assessments and credits, and proficiency in one or more foreign languages other than English. The criteria shall permit a student to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language other than English through multiple methods, including nationally or internationally recognized language proficiency tests.
For the purposes of this section, a foreign language other than English shall also include American Sign Language, Latin, and Native American languages.
b. The Commissioner of Education shall prepare and deliver to participating school districts a certificate to be awarded to the student and an appropriate insignia to be affixed to the diploma and transcript of the student indicating that the student has been awarded the State Seal of Biliteracy. The commissioner shall also provide any information the commissioner deems necessary for a school district to successfully participate in the program.
c. A school district that participates in the program under this section shall maintain appropriate records in order to identify students who have earned the State Seal of Biliteracy, and shall award the certificate and affix the appropriate insignia to a qualifying student’s diploma and transcript.
d. A school district that participates in the program may pay the costs of the program or may charge a fee to students who participate to cover the costs.
5. This act shall take effect immediately and shall first apply to the 2016-2017 school year.