Fuentes, Diegnan & Garcia Bill to Promote Biliteracy among N.J. Students Advanced by Assembly

Measure Designed to Encourage Students to Master Foreign Language to Better Prepare for Today’s Global World

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angel Fuentes, Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. and Carmelo G. Garcia to honor New Jersey students who achieve literacy in more than one world language was approved 74-2 Thursday by the Assembly.
The bill (A-4415) would establish the State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing in one or more world languages in addition to English.
“The development of this recognition is designed to encourage the study of world languages other than English,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Proficiency in multiple languages is critical in enabling New Jersey to participate more effectively in the current global political, social, and economic environment, and in expanding trade with other countries so we want future generations to be prepared to do so.”
Under the bill, the State Board of Education would establish the criteria for awarding the State Seal of Biliteracy.
“In almost any other developed nation you visit, today’s generation is highly proficient in more than one language,” said Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “We need to make sure our students don’t fall behind so we should be encouraging an advanced mastery of other languages.”
“Let’s face it, we live in a global economy where business is no longer isolated to one country or region,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “We should be encouraging our children to achieve literacy in more than one language so they can be better prepared to enter today’s world.”
Students would be required to demonstrate proficiency in English by meeting state high school graduation requirements in English, including through state assessments and credits, and proficiency in one or more world languages other than English.
The criteria will also require a student to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English through multiple methods, including nationally or internationally recognized language proficiency tests. A world language may also include American Sign Language and Native American languages.
Participation in the program to award the State Seal of Biliteracy would be voluntary. A student who meets the criteria established by the State Board of Education would receive the State Seal of Biliteracy and the appropriate insignia will be affixed to the student’s diploma and transcript.
The bill will now be referred to the Senate.