Wicomico Program Offers Seal Of Biliteracy

SALISBURY – A new program recognizes Wicomico County students who demonstrate their proficiency in other languages.

On Tuesday, Ruth Malone, director of curriculum for Wicomico County Public Schools, presented the Wicomico County Board of Education with a new initiative that recognizes students who can demonstrate their proficiency in English and at least one other language.

“The state of Maryland joined much of the country in agreeing to offer a Seal of Biliteracy as an endorsement at the end of a high school career to students who can demonstrate they are proficient in English and another language at, at least an intermediate or high level,” she said. “So districts can elect to offer the Seal of Biliteracy.”

Malone said to get a Seal of Biliteracy, students must demonstrate they are proficient in English with a score of 725, which is a 3 on the state assessment. They must also demonstrate they are proficient in another language by taking an additional assessment.

To complete the program, Malone said the school system will offer students an opportunity to take various language assessments.

“It does not have to be one of the languages we offer, and students don’t have to take a language class in our schools to say they would like to be a part of the Seal of Biliteracy …,” she said. “This means they can take the Advanced Placement test or they can take what we have decided to use, which is the [Avant] Stamp test.”

Malone said the AP assessment offers tests in French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Italian or Japanese, while the Stamp assessment offers tests in several languages, including Russian, Hmong and Amharic.

Malone told the board students who earn a Seal of Biliteracy will be recognized on student transcripts and school-level events, including senior awards night and commencement programs.

She added the program encourages students to attain a high proficiency in two or more languages and prepares them for jobs, among other things.

“It also prepares students with critical skills necessary to function in a global society and affirms our values of appreciating diversity,” she said.

Officials noted Stamp tests are currently being offered to a handful of students wishing to join the program this year.

“We are only hoping it grows from there,” Malone said. “There is no downside to this, only and upside.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.