FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett and 31st Alderman Ray Suarez announced today at Kelvyn Park High School that students who excel and gain proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation will be recognized with a Seal of Biliteracy, which will appear on students’ transcripts and serve as a statement of accomplishment for college admission and for future employers.
“The Seal of Biliteracy will give our students official recognition of their mastery of multiple languages, as well as an advantage in the competition for college and the jobs of tomorrow,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “By embracing and implementing the Seal of Biliteracy, CPS is reaffirming our support of multilingualism, literacy and cultural awareness as drivers of academic achievement.”
The Seal of Biliteracy will be awarded to students from 20 CPS high schools – across each network and charter organization – this school year and is intended to encourage the mastery of multiple languages in elementary and secondary schools. CPS plans to make the Seal of Biliteracy available to all high school students beginning SY 2015-16.
“This is an important initiative to help our students maintain and develop maintain multiple languages, and I am proud to have played a role in helping to develop a educational program that is great for students not only in the 31st Ward, but all across the city,” said Alderman Suarez. “In today’s world, it is extremely beneficial for our students to embrace their ancestry, native languages and cultural diversity.”
CPS’ adoption of the Seal of Biliteracy underscores the value of obtaining proficiency in two or more languages and that language learners are worthy of special recognition. CPS also recognizes the importance for students to maintain mastery over their first language while also learning a second.
There are about 130 languages spoken by CPS students. More than 70,000 of our students are growing up in households with English as a second language. Dual Language programs are currently offered at 12 schools, helping students form deeper connections across languages and cultures. At least one World Language program is offered at 211 of our high schools and 129 of our elementary schools. Throughout the district, world language studies are offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Polish, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
CEO Byrd-Bennett and Alderman Suarez highlighted the importance of the Seal of Biliteracy today with a visit to Kelvyn Park High School, which has students that speak six different languages. Kelvyn Park has also received $6.8 million in capital improvement funds to bring air conditioning to every classroom, improve science labs with new floors and countertops, install an elevator to improve accessibility for students with disabilities, and make additional upgrades in the school.
Chicago Public Schools serves 396,000 students in 664 schools. It is the nation's third-largest school district.