Why students are eagerly signing up for another standardized test: The rising popularity of the Seal of Biliteracy


Margret Huang

Senior Grace Halupnik reviews notes before a test as she gets back into the zone for the new semester.

Margaret Huang, Feature Editor

Following the state’s recognition of the Seal of Biliteracy as a symbol of students’ proficiency in at least two languages, Pleasant Valley High School has encouraged upper-level language students to test their ability and potentially earn an award. 

The Seal of Biliteracy test is offered in multiple languages, and at PVHS, students take Spanish, French or Japanese. Each test costs 20 dollars and needs only the confirmation of an ACT English score of 18 or an AP Language and Composition score of three. Since the seal appears on students’ transcripts, scoring well on the test as a junior or a senior acts as a more convenient alternative to obtaining a four on the AP Spanish exam, which usually does not take place until the end of a student’s senior year.

Seniors applying to college this year, including Aabha Joshi, are thankful for the opportunity introduced last year. “I am glad I took the Biliteracy test last year because it gave me a chance to practice my SPanish skills and see how I was doing in order to plan my next steps in Spanish,” said Joshi.

Students first heard about the opportunity to take the Seal of Biliteracy test last year. Since then, many students have grown interested and are planning to take the test. 

Teachers, such as AP and Spanish 3 teacher Stephanie Risius, strongly believe in the potential of their students’ success on this test. “I think our PV students will be successful on the Seal of Biliteracy test. We had a great success last year with a very high pass rate, and I would expect much of the same this time around,” said Risius. 

For students like junior Ingrid Hofmann, the Seal of Biliteracy can validate the years they have dedicated to their chosen language. “I’m taking the seal of biliteracy test to quantify the four years of Spanish I have taken. Additionally, I believe there are many benefits such as helping you get scholarships or jobs, while there are no real negatives to it,” said Hofmann. 

For employers and universities, the seal serves as a tool to gauge students’ skill level, as well as their commitment to topics such as diversity and global-awareness. The Iowa Department of Education regards language as an asset, viewing proficiency in more than one language as critical to thriving in the 21 century job market. 

In response to the test’s growing popularity, the school offers multiple test dates and times to accommodate students’ different schedules. In the meantime, language teachers are preparing their students by hosting practice sessions, giving advice about the format of the test, and by sufficiently boosting their confidence.