Seal of Biliteracy

What is the State Seal of Biliteracy (SSB)?

Did you know that students who reach the Advanced Placement (AP) level in world language may qualify for the California State Seal of Biliteracy award?  This award recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one or more languages, in addition to English. Please encourage your child to continue their world language study and speak to their counselor for more information about this prestigious award. 


While there are countless benefits to earning the Seal of Biliteracy, these are among the most salient for students:

  • encourages the further study of languages
  • identifies high school graduates with bilingual communication skills for future employers
  • provides universities with additional information about applicants seeking admission
  • prepares students with 21st century skills
  • recognizes the value of foreign and native language instruction in schools
  • affirms the value of cultural and linguistic diversity in a multilingual society


SFUSD’s Multilingual Pathways Department collaborates with high schools to promote the Seal of Biliteracy and recognize Seal earners. The Seal of Biliteracy originated in California and was signed into law in October 2011, with the first California Seals of Biliteracy being issued in early 2012.

Seal of Biliteracy Criteria 

To earn the California State Seal of Biliteracy, graduating seniors must meet the following requirements: 

1. Complete all English Language Arts requirements for graduation (40 credits) with a GPA of 2.0 or higher in those classes.

2. Pass a standardized English Language Arts assessment ('met standard' on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced ELA Assessment)

3. Demonstrate advanced proficiency in one or more languages other than English through one of the following methods: 

  • Successful completion of 4th year coursework in a world language, attaining an overall grade point average of 3.0 or above in that course
  • Score of 3 or above on a world language Advanced Placement exam
  • Register to take the SFUSD-created assessment for Arabic, Filipino, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese

4. For English learners, an overall score of 4 on the ELPAC exam

Students’ eligibility to earn the Seal of Biliteracy is contingent upon their second-semester coursework and graduation requirements being met.

Communication with School Sites

Each year, the Multilingual Pathways Department provides high schools with the names of 12th grade students that have met all criteria to earn the Seal of Biliteracy, in addition to the names of 12th grade students that are missing one or more of the Seal requirements.  Around April of each year, school sites send congratulatory letters home with these students. For these students, there is no application that needs to be completed.

Applying for the Seal of Biliteracy 

Students who do NOT receive a congratulatory letter but who have demonstrated language proficiency in either of the following ways will need to submit an application:

  • Pass another standardized measure of language proficiency at the Intermediate-mid range or higher
  • Complete advanced World Language 4th-Year coursework at a private accredited language school with courses that have received UC-Doorways A-G approval

Please speak to your child’s counselor if these scenarios apply to your child and you wish to apply for the Seal of Biliteracy.

Seal of Biliteracy Award

In addition to the California State Seal of Biliteracy that will be affixed to students’ high school diplomas, each student earning the Seal of Biliteracy will receive an official medal that can be worn during their high school graduation ceremony. Seals and medals will be sent to high school counselors or other identified liaisons during the month of May -- prior to graduation. 

If you have additional questions or need more information about the Seal of Biliteracy, please contact Monica Cope, Multilingual Pathways Department Content Specialist:


This page was last updated on September 6, 2023