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Students recognized on diplomas for biliteracy


Of Kent County traditional public high schools, Wyoming students in the class of 2018 led the way in earning the new Michigan Seal of Biliteracy on their diplomas.

Twenty-six students were recognized for literacy skills in English and Spanish; English and the Persian language Dari; English and Vietnamese; and even English, Spanish and Italian.

The class of 2018 was the first with the option to receive the Michigan Seal of Biliteracy– launched by the state last year — on their diplomas. Michigan is one of more than 30 states to offer the seal. In Kent County, 113 students earned it, far more than any other Michigan county.

To prove biliteracy, students exhibited at least a high-intermediate level of literacy in English and at least one additional world language through transcripts from their native country, along with high English grades and scores on the WIDA tests, which measure English language proficiency.

Wyoming High School is comprised of 22 percent English language learners.

“The kids we recognize are those who can read, write, listen and speak,” said Lisa DeMaagd, the district’s English Learner coordinator. “I think it’s important to validate their home language. It’s important to validate the value of being bilingual, of knowing another language. It’s reflective of our diversity, and this is something that puts a real positive light on that.”

DeMaagd said she hopes the seal grows in recognition by potential employers, and encourages students to keep using their language.

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A New Marker of Success At Graduation: The Seal of Biliteracy

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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