Napa Valley Register, May 6, 2013
A group of 45 seniors from Vintage and Napa high schools were recently the first in the school district to earn the state “Seal of Biliteracy.”
The seal is awarded to high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading and writing in one or more languages in addition to English.
Of the 45 students who earned the seal this year, 36 earned it for Spanish, six for French and three for German. Thirty of the students were from Napa High School, and 15 were from Vintage, said Ivan Chaidez, the district’s director of English language learner and alternative education services.
The Napa Valley Unified School District’s goal was for 50 students to earn the seal during the 2012-13 school year. Although the district fell five students short of the goal, Chaidez said he was “very happy” with the number of graduates who received recognition for bilingualism.
The Seal of Biliteracy was a new program this year, and many teachers and parents were unaware of it, Chaidez said. Next year, people will be more familiar with the program, and the Napa school district expects at least 100 high school seniors to earn the seal, he said.
The state’s Seal of Biliteracy Program was established by Assembly Bill 815. School districts have the option to adopt the seal — it is not mandated by the state, Chaidez said. Napa Valley Unified’s board of trustees voted to adopt the seal in 2012.
The gold, embossed seal is affixed to students diplomas, and the award also is noted in their transcripts. The seal is meant to inform future employers and college admissions staff of a student’s accomplishment in achieving bilingualism.
Seventy-two students in the Napa school district applied for the seal this year, but not all of them met the required criteria, Chaidez said.
Students may qualify for the seal by demonstrating a high level of proficiency in any language in addition to English — including American Sign Language.
Other required criteria include passing four years of English classes with a GPA of 2.0 or above, passing a district writing assessment and meeting all other requirements for receiving a high school diploma.