For Immediate Release: November 2, 2018
More than 1,300 New Mexico High School Graduates Earn Bilingualism-Biliteracy Seal
Santa Fe, NM — Today, Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski announced that a total of 1,327 students have earned the Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy on their New Mexico Diploma of Excellence since the seal was first implemented in 2015 – including 676 in 2018 alone, the largest group ever. Students have earned the seal for demonstrating proficiency in Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Keres, Navajo, Tewa, Tiwa, and Zuni.
New Mexico was the fifth state in the country to adopt a state bilingual seal—another area where the state has led the country over the past decade. New Mexico’s Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy was signed into law by Governor Susana Martinez in 2014, and became effective in September 2015, with the graduating class of 2016 being the first class eligible to earn the seal. The collaborative work to implement the seal was led by a taskforce of tribal educators, world language teachers, teachers of bilingual multicultural education, the State Bilingual Advisory Council, the Hispanic Education Advisory Council, and the Indian Education Advisory Council. New Mexico public high school students were asked to submit designs for the seal, and the design by Edwin Torres of Gadsden High School was selected for the official image.
New Mexico students can achieve the Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy on their Diploma of Excellence and a notice of the seal on their official high-school transcript via one of the following four pathways:
- Tribal Certification: A tribe may certify that a student is proficient in the tribal language. Tribes develop the methods and processes for determining proficiency in their respective tribal languages. Districts and charter schools then award the seal based on tribal certification.
- Units of Credit and Assessment: The student must earn a grade of C or higher in four units of credit in a single language other than English. The student must also meet competency requirements established by the state and their school district.
- Units of Credit and Alternative Process Portfolio: The student must earn a grade of C or higher in four units of credit in a single language other than English. The student must also create a portfolio composed of work demonstrating proficiency in the target language, to be reviewed by a panel of at least three bilingual speakers of the student’s target language.
- Assessment and Alternative Process Portfolio: The student must meet assessment proficiency requirements established by the state and their school district. The student must also create a portfolio composed of work demonstrating proficiency in the target language, to be reviewed by a panel of at least three bilingual speakers of the student’s target language.
Twenty school districts and five charter schools are currently offering the Seal of Bilingualism-Biliteracy. In order to offer the seal on their high school diplomas, districts and charter school boards must adopt the seal and apply for the seal image through the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED). Although the adoption of the seal continues to be voluntary for school districts and charter schools, NMPED encourages wide participation and continues to provide guidance for districts and charter schools adopting the seal.
“It’s critically important that New Mexico students not only have access to different languages and cultures but also that they are meaningfully recognized for their accomplishments when doing so—the education community must do more than talk about this work in the abstract,” said Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski. “We must provide concrete opportunities for students to pursue multilingualism; it is central to the linguistic and cultural diversity of New Mexico and crucial in the 21st century economy. Earning the seal provides our students with evidence of skills such as biliteracy, cultural intelligence and global dexterity, all of which are essential to our students’ identities and important to college admissions offices and future employers. Our students deserve both rigor and relevance—and every school must deliver on both promises.”
Statewide, New Mexico’s student progress over the past several years is unprecedented: 11,000 more students are doing math on grade level and 13,000 more students are reading on grade-level since 2015 – with Native American students improving their reading results more than any other group of students—by 8.2 percentage points. More students are taking and passing Advanced Placement (AP) exams, more students are attending “A” and “B” schools, and the statewide graduation rate is at an all-time high.
As we continue to raise the bar, our students are rising to the challenge.