Today, the Ohio House passed legislation that establishes a State Seal of Biliteracy, which can be included on any high school diploma demonstrating that the student is fluent in a foreign language in addition to English.

House Bill 487, sponsored by State Representatives Sarah LaTourette (R-Chesterland) and Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), designates graduates as bi-literate given that they prove a high level of proficiency in another language, suitable to use in college or a career.

“I am very excited about the Seal of Biliteracy,” stated Roegner. “H.B. 487 will give our Buckeye students a tangible means to display their language skills. Achieving proficiency in a second language is not only invaluable for learning another culture, but also for our students to find employment in a global economy.”

The goal of the legislation is to encourage students to study foreign languages, as well as to give employers and universities a mechanism for identifying candidates who possess a high level of understanding of a foreign language.

Under House Bill 487, the Department of Education is tasked with establishing the State Seal of Biliteracy as well as a suitable mechanism for assessing a student’s proficiency in a foreign language, such as an exam. While establishing a fee to demonstrate literacy in a foreign language is permitted by the legislation, it expressly prohibits charging a fee for the seal to be displayed on a diploma.

“I am especially grateful to Martha Halemba, who lives in my district and teaches in Rep. Roegner’s district, for bringing this legislative idea to our attention and for her ongoing diligence in working to ensure the House’s passage of House Bill 487,” said LaTourette. “This legislation will positively impact many students who are already exceling in two or more languages.”

According to the legislation, any language other than English constitutes a foreign language, including American Sign Language and native languages. House Bill 487 also provides a means for homeschooled students to attain the seal of biliteracy.

House Bill 487 now goes to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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