Central Bucks School District to Award the Pennsylvania Seal of Biliteracy

The Central Bucks School District will begin awarding the Pennsylvania Seal of Biliteracy (PASB) to those who attain intermediate-high proficiency or higher in English and one or more additional world languages upon high school graduation.

The program’s approval by the CBSD Board of School Directors during their March 14, 2023 meeting is the result of an idea initiated by the district’s World Languages Curriculum Coordinator, Stacy Gray, in 2017, “I first learned of the a Seal of Biliteracy when California’s program took root in 2011 as a way to recognize the linguistic talents of English language development students in that state,” Gray recalls.

Recognizing the obvious benefits that this would offer over 6,500 students in Central Bucks, Gray visited Harrisburg in 2017 to inquire about the status in Pennsylvania, and began laying the groundwork to bring the recognition to Central Bucks. In March of 2022, when the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced the Pennsylvania Seal of Biliteracy (PASB), CBSD was ready. A Seal of Biliteracy committee was immediately formed, including eager faculty, administrators, and community members who recognized the advantages that the award would award bring to CBSD students. For example, recipients of this nationally recognized award can stand out in the job market and on school applications and may even be eligible for college credits.

“As we prepare our students to choose their future pathways, it’s our goal to give them as many competitive edges as possible,” Gray explained, “According to Indeed.com, the state of Pennsylvania has over 8,539 vacant jobs for bilingual workers.”

“Individuals who are truly multilingual and biliterate have a rare skill set, and while this recognition can benefit our English language development students, it’s also an excellent opportunity for our students who are learning a second language like Spanish, French, Latin, or Chinese,” she added.

Central Bucks is the first school district in Bucks County to award the Seal of Biliteracy and will recognize the first group of recipients during awards ceremonies in May 2023.

During the presentation to the board, Ms. Gray shared several student testimonials, during which Central Bucks students shared their thoughts on the benefits of the Seal in their own words, “I’ve already used Spanish when I tutor and when I work, so I’m confident that offering this seal will encourage students to use their language skills outside of the classroom,” explained Matthew Mangiacapre, a senior at CB East.

“The Seal of Biliteracy will show others that I have a dedicated, incredible academic history when it comes to learning Spanish, and that I will have that many more cross-cultural connections, academic opportunities, academic pathways, and traveling experiences in my life,” he added.

“I’m very grateful Central Bucks is providing bilingual students with recognition of the work it takes to master a foreign language,” said Victoria Vazquez, a seventh-grade student at Unami Middle School, “I think this recognition acknowledges the effort we have made to achieve this level of proficiency.”

“I plan on going to college, and I know that the Seal of Biliteracy is something that will definitely help me, and other bilingual students like me, when applying to colleges,” said CB South senior Petrina Mitre, “Not only will it help us stand out in the thousands of applications, but it will also show our notable accomplishment of learning a second language.”

More information may be found at https://www.cbsd.org/sealofbiliteracy. Download infographic here.