High school graduates earning the Seal of Biliteracy on their high school transcripts will now receive six or more hours of advanced college credit in world languages at Oklahoma Baptist University. The University adopted this policy earlier this spring, to reward those students demonstrating outstanding achievement in English and at least one other language while in high school, making OBU the first university in the state of Oklahoma to award college credit for students achieving the Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal of Biliteracy is promoted both to English learners (i.e., students from families where another language is spoken) and to native English speakers studying a second language.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) website, “Biliteracy refers to a person’s ability to read, write and effectively collaborate with others in more than one language. However, in the fullest sense of the term, biliteracy extends beyond the acquisition of two separate languages and refers to the ability to use the knowledge of one language to support the other.”
The OBU policy awards credit hours to incoming students, similar to an AP or CLEP examination, but without taking a test. Prospective students should notify their admissions counselor that they are pursuing the Seal of Biliteracy. The Division of Language and Literature will assist the Academic Center in high school transcript evaluations as needed, to determine the amount of credit to be awarded. Transfer students, as well as first-time freshmen, are eligible for advanced credit.
OBU students may earn as much as 12 hours of world language credit for the Seal of Biliteracy. Each state’s department of education establishes their own guidelines for implementing the Seal of Biliteracy, so credit awarded varies based on each state’s standards. Some states adopt a tiered system. In Oklahoma, for instance, students attaining intermediate-mid proficiency as demonstrated on a state-approved assessment earn a Gold Seal of Biliteracy, while students attaining advanced-low proficiency earn a Platinum Seal of Biliteracy. In this example, a Gold Seal receives 6 hours of OBU credit, while a Platinum Seal receives 9 to 12 hours of OBU credit. Some states, on the other hand, do not have a tiered system. As a result, OBU faculty evaluate each state’s standards to determine the appropriate credit awarded to incoming students.
Since 2010, a movement has grown to emphasize the importance of multilingualism, motivate students to pursue it, and recognize those who do so successfully. To date, more than 40 states have enacted laws allowing public schools to award this seal on a qualifying student’s transcript, including Oklahoma and the surrounding states of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. High school students who are not in public schools, such as those in Christian schools, classical schools, and charter schools, as well as international students, missionary kids, and homeschoolers, may seek the Global Seal of Biliteracy through on online program. OBU recognizes both for awarding advanced world language credit.
Joy Hofmeister, Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction, praised OBU for awarding world language credit to students earning the Seal of Biliteracy.
“The Oklahoma Seal of Biliteracy signifies students possess valuable communications skills, cultural understanding and the ability to work collaboratively with others,” Hofmeister said. “Oklahoma Baptist University is the first institution of higher education to accept the Seal of Biliteracy for credit hours. This is a huge win for students who have worked so hard to achieve a high level of proficiency in English and another language and gives them the opportunity to increase their language skills further or get a jump-start on their degree.”
Dr. Brent Newsom, chair of the Division of Language and Literature, and associate professor of English, is excited about this opportunity for OBU students.
“OBU’s new initiative awards university credit in recognition of the hard work already done by those who have earned the Seal of Biliteracy,” Newsom said. “For students of Spanish, including heritage learners, this new policy also paves a way for them to continue progressing in their knowledge and linguistic ability if they choose to minor in Spanish. Students who develop the ability to read, write and communicate in two or more languages have a distinct advantage over competitors in the job market in a variety of career fields, so a Spanish minor complements many degree plans.
“That said, the Seal of Biliteracy recognizes numerous languages, and credit awarded for the Seal of Biliteracy will fulfill language requirements for most OBU degree plans regardless of the language. Students with backgrounds in Vietnamese, Mandarin or ASL can benefit as much as students who have studied Spanish, French or German.”