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World Languages

NYSSB for Colleges and Universities

What is the NYSSB?

The New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) is an award given to high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in the three modes of communication (Interpretive, Interpersonal, Presentational) in English and one or more world languages.  The NYSSB encourages the study of languages, affirms the value of diversity in a multilingual society, and provides universities and future employers with additional information about applicants.  Over 500 high schools in New York offer the NYSSB.  Since it was first offered, more than 33,000 students have earn the NYSSB in 80 different languages.


How does the NYSSB benefit students and schools?

The NYSSB acknowledges the importance of being bilingual in today’s global society.  It highlights the hard work and achievement of students, encourages them to maintain their home language, and pursue additional language study while in school.  The recognition of attaining biliteracy becomes part of the high school transcript and is a statement of accomplishment for future employers and for college admission.   The proficiency level attained by NYSSB earners can inform appropriate placement in college courses, as well as credit for prior learning at the post-secondary level.


Who is eligible to pursue the NYSSB?

Any student attending a district that offers the NYSSB who is proficient in and/or studying English and at least one world language is eligible to pursue this award.  This includes current and former English Language Learners and Heritage Language Speakers, as well as those who are completing a course of study in a world language through high school.


What do students need to do to earn the NYSSB?

There are multiple pathways to earn the NYSSB.  Whichever pathway is chosen, students must demonstrate the required level of proficiency by earning three (3) points in English and three (3) points in one or more world languages from a points matrix.  Students can earn points toward the NYSSB in a number of ways, including earning an 85% or better in English or world language coursework, achieving a set score on a national test (such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or other exams), and completing and presenting a Culminating Project in English and/or a world language.  New York State classifies languages as either category 1-2 or category 3-4.  Category 1-2 languages include Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Haitian Creole, Indonesian, Italian, Malaysian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili, and Swedish.  Students must demonstrate Intermediate High proficiency in category 1-2 languages.  All other languages are considered category 3-4 and require Intermediate Mid proficiency to earn the NYSSB.  These proficiency levels are described in ACTFL’s Inverted Proficiency Pyramid pictured here on the right.


Where can colleges find more information on the NYSSB?

Click here to visit our NYSSB website.

Click here to access the NYSSB annual reports and infographics.

For more information on the NYSSB or to set up a meeting with one of our associates, please email