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A Seal of Biliteracy for Classical Languages

Thomas Sienkewicz

Monmouth College

Paper 3

A Seal of Biliteracy for Classical Languages (419 words)

The goal of this presentation is to provide some historical background on the Seal of Biliteracy, the purposes and goals of the seal, and efforts to establish guidelines for a seal of biliteracy that will include students of  Latin and ancient Greek.

The Seal of Biliteracy movement began in California in 2008 and the state adopted guidelines for its seal in 2011. New York followed suit in 2012.

While the popularity of the seal of biliteracy has spread across the country, there has been little consistency in determining the authorizing agency. Sometimes the seal has been authorized by determining the specific requirements for the seal or the agency which has developed these guidelines. Sometimes individual schools have defined their own requirements. Sometimes school districts have done so. More and more, however, state boards of education have begun articulating these guidelines.

It is very important for students of Latin and ancient Greek have access to seals of biliteracy based upon guidelines appropriate to those languages.

In 2015 In 2015 four national organizations (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages--ACTFL; National Association of Bilingual Education--NABE, National Council of State Supervisors for Languages--NCSSFL, and Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages--TESOL International Association) published recommendations for national guidelines for such standards, including recognition of ways for students of Latin and Greek to earn such seals.

In response to situations in several states where the same guidelines for seals were being applied to students of modern and classical languages, in 2016 the National Committee for Latin and Greek generated some specific recommendations for Seals of Biliteracy in the Classical Languages. Among these recommendations are the following:

that states use one or more of the following assessments to demonstrate proficiency in Latin and Greek: Advanced Placement Latin Exam; ALIRA (ACTFL Latin Interpretive Reading Exam); International Baccalaureate Exams in Latin or Greek; National Latin Exam; National Greek Exam; SAT Subject Test in Latin; or state-specific exams when appropriate;

that states recognize but do not require students to demonstrate productive use in either oral or written mode in either Latin or Greek;

that Classicists research the status of Seals of Biliteracy in their own states and advocate for appropriate assessments for students of Latin and Greek.

            It is hoped that one result of this presentation will be an increase in the number of state, regional and national Classics organizations which endorse these recommendations for a seal of biliteracy in the Classical Languages.

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Classical Advocacy: The National Committee for Latin and Greek

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