Seal of Biliteracy: My School’s Experience

Lesley Chapman, OFLA Executive Vice President 
French Teacher, Sycamore High School

When Ohio adopted the Seal of Biliteracy in late fall, 2017, it joined the ranks of a total of 32 states recognizing students who achieve a high level of proficiency in listening, reading, writing, and speaking in two languages. This means that the class of 2018 is the first graduating class from Ohio that can add this honor to their high school transcripts.

At my high school, Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, we decided to take the plunge, and in April we tested our juniors and senior advanced World Language students for the Seal. There are multiple tests you can give to prove proficiency, and our school chose the STAMP4s test. We tested in French, Spanish, and Chinese. Our Latin teacher tested his students using ALIRA.

Students were excited for this opportunity, and parents were on board. We found that our juniors were most interested in achieving the Seal of Biliteracy, as it would be something to add to their college applications in the fall. While we also test our Seniors in AP, they decided to try the STAMP test as well, as a way to double their chances of achieving the Seal.

The STAMP test was difficult, there is no doubt. The test is adjusted for each student’s level, so the better a student does, the harder the test gets. Some of our native speakers didn’t attain an Intermediate High score in speaking, which was a surprise. We were sure to explain to them that they have to be 100% “on” during the speaking, using their best language possible. It was a good experience this first year, and we learned a lot of pointers for future years.

In the end, of my 40 French V and AP students who tested, 50% of them achieved qualified for the Seal of Biliteracy via the STAMP test. While the STAMP test was a great tool for assessing proficiency, we would be interested in trying out the AAPPL test next school year for a comparison.

We are most excited at the level of enthusiasm surrounding the Seal of Biliteracy at our school. Students were engaged during the testing, knowing that something very concrete would come of a good score. It will be interesting to see how the Seal of Biliteracy will help to promote student retention in our World Language programs.

If you didn’t take part in the Seal of Biliteracy this year, I highly suggest you make plans for next year. Be sure to check out the ODE Seal of Biliteracy page for any questions you may have. If you have questions and would like to ask me about my personal experience, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: chapmanle@sycamoreschools.org.

Good luck!

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