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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Michigan Seal of Biliteracy

Pathways to Biliteracy

Academic Coursework

The most familiar method of learning a world language or acquiring English as an additional language is through PreK-12 academic coursework. Bilingual and immersion programs, Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate language and literature courses, dual enrollment in community college/university courses, traditional world language classes, study abroad and exchange programs, and academic coursework through homeschooling are all viable means for attaining proficiency in a world language.

Heritage and Home Language Acquisition

Many students in the United States are raised in a bilingual or multilingual environment and/or in homes in which a language other than English is spoken. Known as heritage language speakers, these students acquire language through the experience of interacting with family members, friends, and neighbors. Heritage language speakers possess skills necessary for our national security and prosperity. These students are an essential component of our multilingual or multicultural society.

Heritage Language Maintenance

Deliberate efforts to maintain the heritage or native language are prevalent within many culturally and linguistically diverse families and communities. Encouragement to participate in activities where the heritage language is used such as multimedia, community organizations, ethnic or cultural marketplaces can be very beneficial to society. Recognizing the value of maintaining the heritage language sustains  important direct cultural ties to students’ respective families and communities. These efforts to preserve the heritage language must be in place as students become more immersed in English as the dominant language.

Demonstrating Proficiency in a Language Other than English

Commercial Assessment

Acceptable assessments used to provide evidence of world language proficiency in any language must meet the American Council of the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) criteria of Intermediate High or equivalent.

When all four language skills/domains are used in a language and available via approved commercial assessment, all four skills must be assessed and the candidate must earn the equivalent of at least Intermediate High level of proficiency using the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

In the case where all four skills are used and only the productive skills (speaking and writing) are available via approved commercial assessment, the two assessed productive skills can be used to qualify for the seal if the student earns the equivalent of at least Intermediate High level of proficiency using the ACTFL proficiency guidelines.

When proficiency must be determined for languages that use fewer than four language domains/skills, only the language domains/skills that are used with regard to that language will be assessed. The Seal is eligible to be awarded in these languages if the proficiency of Intermediate High has been achieved based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for the language domains/skills tested. Some examples of these languages include American Sign Language, Sylheti, Anishinaabemowin, and Latin.

Foreign Transcripts and Other Formal Documentation

Students transferring from other countries may demonstrate proficiency by providing transcripts from a school in a foreign country showing at least one year of instruction in a language other than English in Grade 6 or beyond.

Alternative Method of Assessment

For languages without available assessments or in circumstances where test administration is cost prohibitive, students must still demonstrate Intermediate High proficiency in all skills that are applicable. The determination of applicable skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing) must be clearly documented through the MDE approved Alternative Process for Assessment. Assessments should be aligned with the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Intermediate High or equivalent.

Student/Parents must receive approval in order to implement the Alternative Process for Assessment. The verification form must be completed and submitted to the MDE at MDE-EL@Michigan.gov at least one month before the date of the assessment. This form is used to identify the committee members and the materials that will be used. The student outcome section can be filled in after students have been assessed and is not necessary to complete that section upon requesting approval.

 In the case where the Alternative Process for Assessment is required, the committee must include a formally trained language speaker and writer of the language who has an understanding of and/or experience using the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and/or Performance Descriptors for assessment purposes. In order to find a formally trained speaker/writer of the less commonly taught language it is recommended that the student/parent reach out to colleges and universities, tribal language departments, embassies or consulates, or professional language schools. In the event that a formally trained language speaker who is also familiar with the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and/or Performance Descriptors is unable to be identified, an interpreter or translator may be used to assist the Committee in in completing the Alternative Process for Assessment and/or interpreting the language used on the assessment. The interpreter’s role is simply to interpret for the Committee, which must include at least one person that has experience using the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and/or Performance Descriptors for assessment purposes. one person that has experience using the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and/or Performance Descriptors for assessment purposes.

The Committee is responsible for the following:
1.     Implementation of the Alternative Process for Assessment for listening, speaking, reading, and/or writing when applicable.
a.     Listening/Reading
                                               i.     Select authentic, age appropriate resources to verify the language proficiency required to earn the Seal in listening and reading. Such authentic materials are generally available on the Internet, through YouTube and social media.
                                              ii.     Create questions to assess these materials.
                                             iii.     The formally trained speaker or an interpreter/translator may assist with the selection of materials and creation of questions.
b.     Speaking
                                               i.     Create speaking tasks that verify the level of language proficiency required to earn the Seal in speaking.
                                              ii.     The formally trained speaker or an interpreter/translator may assist in the interpretation of the oral responses.
c.      Writing
                                               i.     Create writing tasks that verify the language proficiency required to earn the Seal in writing.
                                              ii.     The formally trained speaker or an interpreter/translator may assist in the interpretation of the written response.
2.     Archive the assessment tasks as well as the applicant responses to ensure confidentiality and validity of the assessment.

See the Michigan Seal of Biliteracy document Appendix D for more information and for verification form required for preapproval.