Alta-Aurelia adopts Iowa Seal of Biliteracy

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Alta-Aurelia School Board moved Monday to adopt the Iowa Seal of Biliteracy program for its high school students, which will allow the district to give an award recognizing students who have attained proficiency in two or more languages, one of which is English, by graduation.

“It’s an opportunity to get kids more recognition for being able to show proficiency in more than one language,” said Principal Tom Ryherd. “It’s kind of a win-win.” He said some businesses are starting to use the designation as a qualification for job openings.

Storm Lake adopted the Seal of Biliteracy in October, one of the first schools to do so. “In a global economy, communications is a currency with unlimited value,” said Dr. Stacey Cole, superintendent of Storm Lake Community School District, in October. Over 20 languages are spoken by students in Storm Lake schools.

English proficiency will be measured by an ACT score of at least 18. Proficiency in other languages can be measured by many different standardized assessments.

Alta-Aurelia plans to use the Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages Exam, commonly used by other schools to test for intermediate proficiency in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai. The assessment costs about $50 per student, with only a handful of students anticipated to participate each year.

Being able to speak more than one language has become increasingly important, particularly for good-paying positions. The New American Economy, a bipartisan research organization, reports that online job postings for bilingual workers in Iowa have tripled since 2010.

The board and principal also agreed it would be a great external way to evaluate the high school’s Spanish offerings.