The New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB)
The NYSSB recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in English and one or more world languages. The intent of the NYSSB is to encourage the study of languages, to identify high school graduates with language and biliteracy skills for employers, to provide universities with additional information about applicants seeking admission and placement, to prepare students with twenty-first century skills, to recognize the value of language instruction, and to affirm the value of diversity in a multilingual society. Successful candidates will earn three points in English and three points in each world language from a points matrix, which includes course grades, national and state exams, transcripts, and culminating projects. The NYSSB takes the form of a Seal on the student's diploma and a medallion worn at graduation.
STUDENTS - Do you speak a language other than English at home? Do you study a world language in school? Get recognized for your skills and become part of an elite group of students in New York State by pursuing the Seal of Biliteracy. Although more and more students earn the NYSSB each year, less than five percent of graduating seniors are awarded the Seal. Distinguish yourself from other high school graduates and new college entrants by earning this commendation, which attests to your high proficiency level in English and one or more world languages. Your high school diploma will bear a special Seal of Biliteracy and you will receive a medallion to wear at graduation. For more information on the Seal, ask your teacher (English, English as a New Language, or World Language) or your school counselor.
TEACHERS - The Seal recognizes students who develop a high level of proficiency in English and one or more world languages. Recognize the hard work of your students, while bolstering enrollment in your courses. Many Seal candidates choose to complete a culminating project to earn two points toward the Seal. This project can easily be embedded into your courses. Showcase the wonderfully rich and rigorous instruction you provide in English and world languages to parents and your school's community. For world language teachers, the NYSSB is aligned to the revised New York State Learning Standards for World Languages adopted by the Board of Regents in March of 2021.
ADMINISTRATORS - The NYSSB not only supports rigorous curriculum and high achievement, it also positively contributes to your school's ESSA Accountability score in the same way as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses and the Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation.
The NYSSB Handbook will help districts and schools with the implementation process, including procedures, criteria, questions and answers, required forms, and resources. New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) public schools should consult the NYCDOE Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for information specific to NYCDOE schools. Questions from NYCDOE public schools should be directed to Jill Schimmel in the Division of Multilingual Learners (DML@schools.nyc.gov). Questions from all other schools in New York State (all public schools outside of New York City and all charter and non-public schools in the state, regardless of location) should be directed to Candace Black in the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (firstname.lastname@example.org; 518-473-7505).
To assist schools in implementing a NYSSB program, OBEWL in collaboration with the NYSSB Task Force and the Mid-West and Mid-State RBERNs created a NYSSB Guidance Toolkit that contains a series of self-guiding modules. The modules, consisting of agendas, videos, presentation slides, and supporting documentation, can be used by the Seal of Biliteracy Committee within a single school or among schools in a consortium looking to implement, improve, or expand their programs. Click on any of links to explore the various modules that make up the NYSSB Guidance Toolkit.
Current modules exist for the following topics:
Module 1: Getting Started
Module 2: Planning to Implement the NYSSB
Module 3: Designing the Culminating Project and Promoting the NYSSB Program
Module 4: Monitoring Student Progress
Module 5: Preparing for Panel Presentations
Module 6: Celebrating the NYSSB
Module 7: Wrapping up Your Program
Module 8: Completing the End-of-Year Data Form
These modules are designed to be used sequentially for schools that are in their first few years of offering the Seal of Biliteracy, however, even schools that have multiple years' experience awarding the Seal will find the information contained in the Toolkit useful to improve and expand upon their Seal programs. Schools may also choose to view a single module based on a particular need.
Additional modules are currently in development. For any questions on the NYSSB Guidance Toolkit, please contact Candace Black at email@example.com.
The NYSSB Guidance Toolkit is provided by the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages at the New York State Education Department for the exclusive use of NYS high schools implementing or considering implementation of the NYSSB, as well as BOCES and RBERNs who assist their constituent districts. All rights reserved.
- Purpose: To notify NYSED of intent to offer the NYSSB in the current school year; to identify student subgroups eligible to pursue the NYSSB
- Deadline to submit form to NYSED: December 1st
- Click here to access the online NYSSB School Notification Form.
- Click here for more detailed information on the NYSSB School Notification Form.
- Purpose: To notify NYSED of the dates of the Culminating Project Presentations and the languages in which they will be delivered
- Deadline to submit form to NYSED: March 15th
- Click here to access the online NYSSB Culminating Project Notification form.
- Click here for more detailed information on the Culminating Project Notification Form.
- Purpose: To provide basic demographic information on successful Seal candidates as well as the criteria they met to earn the NYSSB in English and one or more world languages; to order the Seal stickers and medallions
- Deadline to submit form to NYSED: May 5th
- Click here to access the End of Year Data Form (Excel workbook).
- Click here for more detailed information on the End of Year Data Form.
- Deadline to submit "amended" form to NYSED for previously anticipated candidates: July 15th
Q: What do the Seal sticker and the medallion look like?
A: The Seal sticker is a one inch round sticker with the image of the official New York State Seal of Biliteracy (click here for the image). The Seal sticker is placed on the student's official diploma. The medallion is a one in round image of the NYSSB covered in a plastic coating and mounted on a brushed gold metal disc with a yellow ribbon. The medallion can be worn by students at their official graduation ceremony.
Q: Who pays for the Seal stickers and medallions?
A: NYSED provides the Seal stickers and medallions free of charge to all participating schools for the number of verified Seal candidates who are graduating seniors.
Q: Are there costs to students to pursuing the NYSSB?
A: No, there is no cost to students to pursue the NYSSB. NYSED provides the Seal stickers and medallions free of charge. If a student chooses to take one of the approved assessments for criterion 1D or 2D, that cost is borne by the district the student attends. Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams are not covered under this statement as they apply to both coursework and an exam and often permit the student to earn college credit based on their score. The fees for AP and IB exams that might be used to earn points toward the NYSSB via criteria 1D and 2D are the sole responsibility of the student.
Culminating Projects & Presentations
Students may demonstrate the required level of proficiency for the Seal in English and/or a world language by completing and presenting a Culminating Project, which can take the form of project, a scholarly essay, or a portfolio. The Culminating Project, when successfully completed and presented, may earn the student 2 points for criterion 1E and/or 2E of the NYSSB. To satisfy the Culminating Project criteria, a student must demonstrate the required level of proficiency based on the language in which the student is seeking the points.
- For English and category 1-2 modern languages (those that use a Roman-based alphabet such as Spanish, French, Italian, German), the required proficiency level is Intermediate High.
- For category 3-4 modern languages (Indigenous languages such as Seneca and Tuscarora, those that use a non-Roman-based alphabet such as Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and Russian, and those that are character-based such as Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Vietnamese), the required proficiency level is Intermediate Mid.
- For classical languages (those from an earlier time in human history that have no living native speakers such as Latin and ancient Greek), the required proficiency level is Intermediate High for Interpretive Reading.
Culminating Projects are presented by the student in the language being assessed to a panel of at least two qualified adult speakers of the language. Panelists may include classroom teachers, other faculty and staff, and community members. Students present their projects and then the panel interviews the students in the language being assessed.
Projects are evaluated using a rubric that is aligned with ACTFL proficiency levels. NYSED has created sample rubrics for each of the language categories that schools may use to evaluate student work.
- Sample rubric for category 1-2 modern languages (those that use a Roman-based alphabet such as Spanish, French, Italian, German)
- Sample rubric for category 3-4 modern languages (indigenous languages such as Seneca and Tuscarora; those that use a non-Roman-based alphabet such as Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, and Russian; those that are character-based such as Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Vietnamese)
- Sample rubric for classical languages (those from an earlier time in human history that have no living native speakers such as Latin and ancient Greek)
Alternatively, schools may develop their own rubrics, which must be submitted to NYSED for approval with the NYSSB School Notification Form in December of each year. In order to be approved, school-based rubrics must meet the criteria established by NYSED based on the following essential questions:
- Is proficiency in the language being assessed the only aspect that is assessed on the school’s Culminating Project rubric?
- Are the column headings of the school’s Culminating Project rubric labeled with ACTFL proficiency levels?
- Are the performance descriptors in the school’s Culminating Project rubric aligned to ACTFL proficiency levels?
- Does the school’s Culminating Project rubric indicate the proficiency level required to earn the NYSSB?
- Does the school’s Culminating Project rubric separately address all three modes of communication (interpretive, interpersonal, presentational)?
Each year, the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL) will schedule visits with a small sample of schools offering the NYSSB for two purposes: (1) to observe and participate in Culminating Project Presentations and (2) to provide feedback and support to schools in this process. Schools must have offered the NYSSB for at least two years in order to be selected. All schools must submit the online NYSSB Culminating Project Notification Form no later than March 15th of each year in which the NYSSB is offered. If your school is selected, you will be notified no later than March 31st with the date and time of visit and the name and contact information of the representative that will be present. For more information on this form, click here.
Each year since 2018-19, NYSED has published an Annual Report on the New York State Seal of Biliteracy, summarizing facts and figures, such as the number of students who have earned the Seal, and the number of schools that have offered it. The data is disaggregated in several meaningful ways, including by year, by region, by gender, and by race and ethnicity, which can provide valuable information for districts and schools to recruit and support students in their pursuit of the Seal. The reports also identify future goals for growth areas, strategies to achieve these goals, and provide information regarding how the NYSSB compares to other such programs throughout the country.
Click here to download the 2018-19 NYSSB Annual Report.
Click here to download the 2019-20 NYSSB Annual Report.
An Annual Report for all states that offer the Seal of Biliteracy is published by www.sealofbiliteracy.org. Click here for the 2018-19 National Seal of Biliteracy Annual Report. For more information on Seal programs in other states, visit www.sealofbiliteracy.org.
Guidelines for Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy 2020
Below is an excerpt from the Guidelines for Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy (2020). Click here to access this report. The NYSSB Task Force uses the guidance provided in this report to continuously improve access and equity to the New York State Seal of Biliteracy.
After several years of implementing the Seal of Biliteracy at the state and local levels, many lessons have been learned, many questions have arisen, and many ideas have been piloted and evaluated. To share what has been learned from these experiences, seven organizations present these updated guidelines for implementation of the Seal of Biliteracy. The organizations that have partnered to present these updated guidelines are:
- MLA (Modern Language Association)
- NABE (National Association for Bilingual Education)
- NAELPA (National Association of English Learner Program Administrators)
- NCSSFL (National Council of State Supervisors for Languages)
- SealofBiliteracy.org and Californians Together
- TESOL International Association
The goals for presenting these guidelines are to:
- Strengthen existing strategies for implementing the Seal of Biliteracy
- Encourage expansion of practices at the local and state levels
- Connect all language learning programs across institutional lines (including primary, secondary, and postsecondary institutions) to support all learners to achieve the Seal of Biliteracy, regardless of learners’ native or heritage languages
The guidelines are organized around the following themes:
- Advocacy - Purpose
- Pathways to Biliteracy
- Equity and Access to Opportunity to Earn the Seal of Biliteracy
- Implementation Guidelines for State Education Agencies (SEAs)
- Implementation Guidelines for Public School Districts
- Implementation Guidelines for Non-Public Entities
Exam Exemptions (2020, 2021) and the NYSSB
ELA Regents Exams
Other Regents Exams
New York State (NYSESLAT)