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State will recognize biliterate graduates

Kids who speak more than one language will get seal on diplomas.

April 06, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

More than 400 Glendale Unified students are expected to earn recognition for bilingual competency this June, but for the first time in the district's history, students who achieve literacy in a language other than English will be recognized by the state.

While Glendale Unified educators have been honoring biliterate students since 1993, state officials just implemented a biliteracy award program last year. As part of that recognition, seals from the state will be affixed to the diplomas of graduating biliterate students.

Last year, 407 students graduating from Glendale schools earned recognition for being proficient in one or more foreign languages.

This June, officials expect more students than last year to graduate with district honors.

"We're anticipating a portion of those would be recognized with the state seal," said Kelly King, director of the district's categorical programs.

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For students to earn recognition from Glendale Unified, they must meet one of several requirements, including scoring higher than a "3" on an Advanced Placement exam, completing four consecutive years of the same foreign language, or passing a foreign government's language exam.

For Glendale students to earn the state seal, they must meet one of several state requirements in addition to any district criteria met, such as passing the SAT II foreign language exam with a score of 600 or higher.

Local students can also earn bilingual recognition from Glendale Unified by passing the district's exams in Armenian, Korean, Russian or Spanish.

However, California does not offer exams focused on specific languages.

School Board member Mary Boger said she's disappointed that state officials don't offer foreign-language tests.

"Across the state of California, there are districts rich in a diversity of languages," Boger said. "This is just really inexcusable. I'm perfectly happy to get on the phone and start talking to our state legislators if that's what it's going to take."

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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