The Seal of Biliteracy: Considering equity and access for English learners

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Abstract

The Seal of Biliteracy is a grass-roots language policy initiative that is sweeping across the United States. An award affixed to high school graduates’ transcripts and diplomas, the overarching purpose of the policy is to promote and foster students’ bilingualism and biliteracy in K-12 schools. Initiated in California in 2011, the policy has been modified significantly as stakeholders in 32 different states have drafted, passed, and enacted similar legislation in recent years. On its surface, the policy appears to hold promise in disrupting the monolingual norm prevalent in U.S. schools; however, with many states focusing efforts on world language education for English-dominant students, a critical analysis of the policy from the lens of the large and growing population of English learners is warranted. This paper considers the 32 state policies from this lens, first exploring the policy purpose and logistics and then making policy recommendations to enhance equity and access for English learners. The recommendations target stakeholders across the United States who seek to either initiate or revise Seal of Biliteracy policies within their unique state contexts.

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How to Cite
Heineke, A. J., Davin, K. J., & Bedford, A. (2018). The Seal of Biliteracy: Considering equity and access for English learners. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 26, 99. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.26.3825
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Author Biographies

Amy J. Heineke, Loyola University Chicago

Amy Heineke is Associate Professor of Bilingual/Bicultural Education at Loyola University Chicago. Her research focuses on language policy and teacher preparation for students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Her scholarship is informed by her prior work as a classroom teacher of English learners in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kristin J. Davin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Kristin Davin is Assistant Professor of Foreign Language Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on second language teacher preparation, language assessment, and the Seal of Biliteracy. Her scholarship is informed by her prior work as an elementary Spanish teacher in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Amy Bedford, Loyola University Chicago

Amy Bedford is a doctoral student and adjunct instructor at Loyola University Chicago. Her research focuses on science-focused afterschool programs for underserved youth and immigrant students. Her scholarship is informed by her prior work as an elementary teacher and volunteer in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Chicago, Illinois.