Glendale Unified high school graduates have been eligible for the seal since 1995. The requirements became the basis for Assembly Bill 1196, which created the California State Seal of Biliteracy.
“We’re very proud of the fact that, once again, we’re the cutting-edge district,” Glendale Unified school board President Mary Boger said. “[Supt. Michael] Escalante has taken to calling us a lighthouse district — districts to which other districts look for guidance and student achievement.”
With a large population of English-language learners, as well as significant Armenian, Korean and Latino communities, hundreds of Glendale students earn the bilingual seal every year. Officials estimate 2,300 graduating seniors have received the bilingual award.
Armenian and Spanish were the most popular tests between 2007 and 2009, and more than a dozen seniors passed the Russian test at Hoover and Glendale high schools, administrators said. More than a dozen Crescenta Valley seniors passed the Korean exam.
“That we can help our students preserve their native tongue and become English-language fluent is a huge boost for them when they go into the job market,” Boger said.
Exams are offered in Armenian, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.
Students must meet only one of several requirements: a 2.0 grade-point average; a score of three or higher on the Advanced Placement exam; complete four years of the same foreign language course; pass a foreign government’s approved language exam; or pass the district’s own bilingual competency exam.
Glendale Unified was also selected as the 2009 bilingual District of the Year, a Presidential Award given by the California Assn. for Bilingual Education. The district’s dual-language immersion program for elementary school students, known as the Foreign Language Academy of Glendale, won $2.4 million in federal grants that will allow the courses to expand into middle schools.
“The whole concept of literacy in the 21st century, being able to speak two languages has really been a priority of the district for a long time,” Escalante said. “This seal really exemplifies that and encourages that.”