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Biliteracy a big deal: Local grads among those with multilingual recognition

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD – Nearly 800 students from across the state are receiving the Illinois State Seal of Biliteracy on their academic transcript and diploma this spring, the first year the distinction will be so noted — and a growing recognition that multilingualism is the wave of the global economic future.

The new credential is awarded to graduates who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in one or more languages in addition to English.

“Multiple language skills are of great benefit in today’s global economy and are also very important in our own diverse communities,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith.

Thirteen languages are represented among the projected 797 State Seals of Biliteracy to be awarded this school year, with 619 of those for mastery in Spanish. Seventy-one students earned a Seal of Biliteracy for French, and 47 students earned the credential for Chinese. Other languages represented are German, Italian, Polish, Albanian, Malayalam, Russian, Tagalog, Lithuanian, Albanian and Gujarati.

Additionally this school year, about 350 students from across the state were projected to earn the State Commendation toward Biliteracy, which demonstrates progress toward full biliteracy in English and another language.

Seventeen school districts submitted applications to participate for the 2014-15 school year. The following is a list of the districts with the estimated number of students earning the State Seal of Biliteracy this graduation season.

· Argo Community High School District 217 (16 students)

· Barrington Community High School District 220 (85)

· Centralia High School District 200 (11)

· Chicago Public Schools (147)

· Community High School District 218 (56)

· Community Unit School District 1 (3)

· Community Unit School District 300 (65)

· Dekalb Community Unit School District 428 (5)

· Elmhurst Community Unit School District 205 (107)

· Lincoln Community High School District 404 (8)

· Mahomet Seymour Community Unit School District 3 (6)

· Metamora Township 122 (8)

· Mundelein High School District 120 (65)

· O’Fallon Township High School 203 (20)

· Proviso Township High School (31)

· Stevenson High School 125 (156)

· Waterloo High School District 5 (8)

Illinois was the third state to pass legislation offering a Seal of Biliteracy, joining California and New York. States such as New Mexico, Washington and Louisiana have since passed legislation offering the seal as well. The 2014-15 school year is the first year for the State Seal of Biliteracy in Illinois following the State Board of Education’s approval of rules for the initiative last fall. Participation in the program is optional for districts.

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