- Clifton Public School District
CHS Seniors Earn Prestigious Biliteracy Awards
COVID-19 and remote learning could not prevent Clifton High School students from achieving academic success. For the past three years, the Clifton Public School district has offered its students the opportunity to obtain an official New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy. The NJ Seal of Biliteracy is a prestigious award presented to students who have demonstrated proficiency in two or more languages by the time they graduate from high school. This year, Clifton saw an uptick in the number of students taking the NJ Seal of Biliteracy exams and the number of offered languages.
The Seal of Biliteracy website states, "The Seal of Biliteracy encourages students to pursue biliteracy, honors the skills our students attain and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices."
In addition to the NJ Seal of Biliteracy, several Clifton students will also receive the Global Seal of Biliteracy. According to The Global Seal website, "The Global Seal of Biliteracy enables recipients to showcase their language skills to any school or employer across state lines and national borders, with a unique serial-numbered document."
"The district sees the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy and the Global Seal as incredible opportunities to extend to our students," remarked Dr. Danny Robertozzi, Superintendent of Clifton Public Schools. "Clifton is a culturally rich community that draws its strength from its diversity. We are thrilled to offer our students the prospect of earning these distinguished honors. Our students will be able to benefit from the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy or the Global Seal, whether in college or their careers, to foster a more equitable future for everyone."
According to Alicja Banning, District Supervisor of Bilingual, ESL, and World Languages, students qualified for the award representing 12 different languages for the NJ Seal of Biliteracy and 15 languages for the Global Seal. Last year, there were only seven languages for the NJ Seal of Biliteracy.
"We have developed quite an involved process to administer the exam," noted Banning. "We begin by determining which students might be interested in taking the exam. We try to encourage qualified students to start the process by taking the practice tests. This way, students can determine if taking the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy or Global Seal test is feasible for them."
Maria Jaume-Aponte, the district ESL Resource teacher, plays an integral role in facilitating the process.
"I start with a list of grade 12 students, both current or former ESL students or interested students in our World Language classes," Jaume-Aponte explained. "Then I visit their senior Physical Education classes and pitch the concept of the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy and the benefits of obtaining the award. If the students show an interest in pursuing the opportunity, they take a practice test to estimate their chances of passing the actual exam."
In January 2021, 98 Clifton High School seniors passed the NJ Seal of Biliteracy Exam of the 109 administered Language tests. Students passed 101 of the Language tests, giving Clifton's students a 92.6% passing rate.
"This means that 98 New Jersey Seals and 101 Global Seals will be issued," Jaume-Aponte continued. "Several students sat for multiple exams, which explains why we have 101 seals."
"This is a big increase from last year where we issued 74 Seals of Biliteracy and didn't even offer the Global Seal," commented Banning. "We are especially proud that we were able to offer the exam to even more students this year."
This year, 12 languages will receive the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy certificate for Ukrainian, Gujarati, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Tagalog (Filipino), Turkish, Mandarin (Chinese), Polish, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish.
Fifteen languages will receive the Global Seal of Biliteracy certificate for Ukrainian, Gujarati, Urdu, Haitian Creole, Tagalog (Filipino), Turkish, Mandarin (Chinese), Polish, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Serbian, Slovakian, Macedonian.
Of the 98 seniors awarded the Seal of Biliteracy or the Global Seal, 23 students are former English Language Learners, 14 are current English Language Learners, 61 are general education students and/or World Language students. Several students speak a native language in their homes. Four students have an IEP or 504 plan.
Three Seniors are trilingual and will be receiving two language certificates for the NJ Seal of Biliteracy and two language certificates for the Global Seal of biliteracy.
Sixteen of Clifton's students scored in the Advanced range in all four language areas (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Students only need to score within the Intermediate Mid-range to qualify for the Seals of Biliteracy.
"As we prepare our students for life after high school graduation, we have a responsibility to provide paths for our students to become global citizens. Our district's expansion of the New Jersey Seal of Biliteracy and Global Seal programs is an investment in our students and, more broadly, an investment in a more inclusive and tolerant society," concluded Dr. Robertozzi.