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12 MBA Graduates Receive Seal of Biliteracy

Over 140 seniors walked across New Haven graduation stages this year with diplomas certifying that they are proficient in multiple languages.

This was the first year that all nine standard New Haven Public Schools offered students the chance to earn the Connecticut State Seal of Biliteracy. To earn the stamp on their diploma, students must meet all their English language graduation requirements plus pass a standardized test for another language.

“Whether kids grow up with dialectical or standard versions of their first language, this is still an accomplishment. I spoke Southern dialect growing up and there were quite a few bridges I had to cross to get to standard English,” said Board of Education member Edward Joyner.

The district’s world languages supervisor, Jessica Haxhi, has been running the program and described its successes to the BOE’s Teaching and Learning Committee on Wednesday.

The state signed the program into law in 2017. The first year afterwards one New Haven school implemented the program and graduated six with the seals. Last year saw three high schools and 47 graduates. This year NHPS tripled the number of high schools and graduated 148 officially biliterate students.

Seniors passed tests in 13 different languages, including Bangla, Swahili, Spanish and Pashto. Most of the graduates speak these languages at home. For these graduates, the seal often validates the importance of that knowledge.

With school closures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, many students had to take the tests on their own. Haxhi said that the district sent students microphones and made sure they had laptops to take the tests on.

The largest schools boasted the most bilingual graduates. Haxhi said that the program is not yet at the district’s only alternative school, Riverside Opportunity High School.

Haxhi said that she aims to send 250 graduates across their stages with the seal next year, including more students who have picked up another language through their world language classes.

Seal of Biliteracy Graduates By School

Hill Regional Career High School: 12 Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School: 10 Engineering and Science University Magnet School: 4 High School in the Community: 4 Metropolitan Business Academy: 12 New Haven Academy: 6 The Sound School: 20 James Hillhouse High School: 30 Wilbur Cross High School: 50 TOTAL: 148

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