Qualified graduates at Carthage High School next year will be eligible for a new recognition that shows they've gone above and beyond expectations in their learning careers.

Qualified graduates at Carthage High School next year will be eligible for a new recognition that shows they've gone above and beyond expectations in their learning careers.
The Carthage R-9 Board of Education approved a plan to issue a “Seal of Biliteracy” on the diplomas of Carthage graduates who demonstrate advanced proficiency in English, and a second language of their choosing.
The board approved unanimously a resolution to issue a district seal and to issue a state seal if the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education approves it in the next school year.
Jana Sawyer, English Language Learners coordinator for the Carthage R-9 District, said the seal is an new level of recognition the district can give to students who go beyond the normal requirements to graduate.
“It's basically an extra seal of recognition on a student's high school diploma,” Sawyer said. “It says they have reached a degree of proficiency in English and a language other than English, at least one. They have to meet all the criteria for graduation and they have to show proficiency in speaking, listen, reading and writing, all four domains, of another language. The test for the seal of biliteracy is strictly a language proficiency test.”
Sawyer said the Carthage district is piloting the program for the state, which is also developing a seal of biliteracy.
She said the state has come up with a plan with similar criteria to Carthage's plan, but the State Board of Education hasn't acted on it yet.
“We would apply to issue the state seal, but at this point we can only offer a district-level seal,” Sawyer said. “If they approve theirs, we could offer a state of Missouri seal.”
She said two universities, Missouri State University and Missouri Western State University, have offered different kinds of foreign language credit to students who enter with a seal of biliteracy.
Board member Elizabeth Streich was excited as she voted for the resolution.
“I think it's exciting that Carthage is the district that's motivating the state board and DESE to look into this,” she said in the meeting.
Sawyer said the district will create “pathway rewards” for students in the third, fifth and eighth grades who are working toward fluency in a second language.
The seal will compliment the dual language program the district initiated last year where selected students in kindergarten and first grade take most of their courses in English and Spanish to get a head start on learning two languages.
Sawyer said she hopes parents and students are excited about the chance to earn the seal.
“I think Carthage has high expectations for its students and they want high academic standards,” Sawyer said. “This is just one of those additional bumps up that we can give to our graduates. It's another advantage. I think we realize that we're graduating students with the skill, but now we're sending them out with a badge that recognizes that skill.”