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Oxnard Union High School District offers a Seal of Biliteracy to high school students

Stephanie Chavez, Editor-in-Chief

For those students who can speak a language other than English, the Seal of Biliteracy, is a recognition worth obtaining.

“The State Seal of Biliteracy is an award granted to high school seniors upon graduation, certifying attainment of mastery of two or more languages, one of which is English,” said English Learner Learning Design Coach Ms. Vanessa Calderón-Garcia.

Getting such seal is a great opportunity for students to show their mastery of two languages. The word biliterate can sometimes be confused with the word bilingual. However, “being bilingual means to have the ability to speak in two or more languages, being biliterate means to have the ability to read, write, and speak academically in two or more languages.”

“The Oxnard Union High School District awards the State Seal of Biliteracy to students who can demonstrate they are proficient in English and another language…The OUHSD promotes [it] because it is a way to prepare students with the necessary 21st Century skills to be successful in life,” she said.

The eligibility requirements for those whose first language is English are that “students must have completed all English–language arts requirements for graduation with an overall grade point average of 2.0 or above in those classes,” Ms. Calderón-Garcia said.

Additionally, students must demonstrate mastery in English by scoring proficient on the California High School Exit Exam or receiving a 500 or 22 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test critical reading section or American College Testing exam. Also, if those examinations do not apply, they can still qualify if they pass any Advanced Placement (AP) English exam, or if they score college ready in the exam.

Ms. Calderón-Garcia also said that students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English by “passing a foreign language Advanced Placement exam, including American Sign Language, with a score of three or higher…[or] successfully completing a four-year high school course of study in a foreign language and attain an overall GPA of 3.0 or above in that course of study.”

If for any reason there are no other tests offered to confirm their proficiency, then the student must take an off-the-shelf test. Such test must be certified by the school district to make sure that the test shows the “rigor of a four-year high school course of study in that foreign language,” said Ms. Calderón-Garcia.

For those whose primary language is not English, Ms. Calderón-Garcia said they must “achieve Early Advanced proficiency level on the California English Language Development Test (CELDT), which may be administered an additional time, as necessary.” Even so, they can also apply if they meet any of the criteria for those students whose first language is English.

There are several advantages for those students who receive the Seal of Biliteracy. Ms. Calderón-Garcia said, “First, a student no longer has to take a world language course at the college level because he/she already fulfilled that requirement. Once the student is looking for a job, they have greater advantages…and higher salary because they are biliterate.”