New Jersey Department of Education

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New Jersey Student Learning Standards

New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: February 2020


How can my district let the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) know that we will participate in the Seal of Biliteracy program this year?

A memo will be shared by Executive County Superintendents to district superintendents in the fall of 2019.  The memo will include a link to a Survey Monkey form where districts can indicate potential participation by Friday, November 1, 2019.

Who determines whether a student is eligible to receive the Seal of Biliteracy?

Local school districts are responsible for ensuring that students have met all of the assessment requirements necessary for being awarded a seal.  The assessment requirements can be found on the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency document.

Does the Seal of Biliteracy come with any high school credits?

No. The Seal of Biliteracy indicates recognition of a minimum proficiency level attained by a student in at least one language in addition to English.  The Seal of Biliteracy is not awarded based on seat time or course completion requirements, and it is not tied to credits.  Attainment of the seal does not provide credits toward graduation and does not act in any way as full or partial fulfillment for a student's being granted a diploma.  Information about graduation requirements can be found in N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1.

Does the Seal of Biliteracy apply to American Sign Language (ASL) and classical languages (e.g. Latin)?

Yes. In New Jersey, ASL and classical languages are considered world languages.

When a student is interested in receiving a Seal of Biliteracy, who is responsible for the cost of the assessment(s)?

As participation in the Seal of Biliteracy program is a commitment on the part of both the district and the students, payment of the assessment costs is decided at the local level.  Districts should remember, however, that a Seal of Biliteracy assists students in demonstrating that they are ready for success in both their college endeavors and their future careers.

Is there a fee to order the seal certificates?

No. There is no fee charged to order the seal certificates.

What kind of insignia or certification will be provided to students who earn the seal?

Students who are eligible for a Seal of Biliteracy will receive a certificate with the seal insignia noting their name and language(s) of attainment from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE).  In addition, school districts may wish to include the insignia "New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy" on student transcripts through their student data management systems (e.g. Genesis).  Including a notation on student transcripts for a Seal of Biliteracy is at the discretion of the local district.

What is the difference between the seal and the insignia?

The seal is the image on the certificate. The insignia is the term "New Jersey State Seal of Biliteracy" that is placed on the student's transcript. Districts may place the insignia on student transcripts once the local district is able to certify student eligibility for a seal through assessment scores.  The assessment requirements can be found on the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency document.

What are some important timelines to know?

Date Action
October 2, 2019 Broadcast announcing Seal of Biliteracy sent to the field

November 1, 2019

Deadline for districts to indicate 2019 participation in the Seal of Biliteracy program
November 2019-February 2020 Students take assessments, districts ask questions of the NJDOE ( or, email messages and updates are sent from NJDOE to participating districts, webinars take place
February 7, 2020 Districts complete all testing and have all scores finalized
February 28, 2020 Districts will upload Homeroom submission and complete all fields in NJ SMART
March 2019-May 2020 NJDOE reviews data submitted through Homeroom and NJ SMART
June 2020 Certificates will be printed and mailed to districts*
June 15 - July 15, 2020 Districts will upload Portfolio submission through Homeroom

*Even though the NJDOE certificates will not arrive until early June, districts may wish to recognize students in any way they see fit (e.g. medals, ribbons, ceremonies).

Demonstrating Proficiency in English

How can students demonstrate proficiency in English?

Students can demonstrate English language proficiency by attaining any of the English language arts (ELA) graduation requirements set by the NJDOE.

How can English Language Learners (ELLs) demonstrate proficiency in English in order to receive a Seal of Biliteracy?

ELLs may demonstrate English language proficiency by achieving a score of at least 4 on all sections (e.g. listening, speaking, reading, and writing) on Tier B or Tier C of the ACCESS for ELLs assessment during their junior year of high school.  ELLs must also demonstrate proficiency in their native language in addition to English. (see next section)

Demonstrating Proficiency in Languages Other Than English

Which assessments can students use to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English?

The required minimum elements and acceptable assessments can be found on the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency document.  The list will be updated annually by the NJDOE.  Please note that AP language and culture exams must be taken during the junior year as scores from assessments taken during the senior year do not arrive until after graduation.

Students who are seeking to use results from an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exam taken during their final year of high school to qualify for a Seal of Biliteracy will receive the results two to three months after graduation.  Will these students be eligible to receive a seal after graduation?

No. Local districts must have all language assessment qualifying data completed by February 7, 2020.  Therefore, students must take AP exams during their junior year of high school.

Can we submit scores from language assessments that were taken in 8th, 9th or 10th grade?

No. A Seal of Biliteracy denotes that a student has a specific level of language proficiency at the time of graduation. Therefore, only results from assessments that are administered in the second half of the junior year or at any point before the annually posted cut-off date in the senior year will be accepted.

Can we use locally developed assessments for languages that do not have other readily available assessments?

Assessments not already listed on the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency document must be submitted to the NJDOE for approval.  The assessment list will be updated annually or when new assessments are approved.

Do English Language Learners (ELLs) have to demonstrate proficiency in their native language and English?

Yes. ELLs must demonstrate proficiency in English either through ACCESS for ELLs scores taken during the junior year or by meeting the English language arts graduation requirements.  ELLs must also demonstrate proficiency in a world language through any of the assessments listed on the Acceptable Evidence of Proficiency.

Data Submission Questions

How does my district let the NJDOE know which students are eligible for a Seal of Biliteracy?

This question has a two-part answer:

1.  The NJDOE will receive a data file from most language assessment vendors with student-level data.  You may need to ask the vendor to release your district data to the NJDOE.  Please consult with your vendor (e.g. Avant Assessment or Language Testing International) for more information.

2.  By the submission deadline, your district must upload to NJDOE Homeroom the excel spreadsheet that will be sent to you via email.

This year your district will be asked to enter data into Seal of Biliteracy fields as well as upload the spreadsheet into NJDOE Homeroom

When is the deadline to submit the excel spreadsheet?

The deadline is Friday, February 28, 2020.

Can we make changes to the excel spreadsheet once it is submitted?

No. Changes may not be made to the data once the excel spreadsheet has been uploaded to Homeroom.

The February 28 submission deadlines are very early to have proficiency assessment data submitted to the NJDOE.  Why is it so early?

Unfortunately, this was a deadline that was determined with input from internal NJDOE offices to ensure that there is enough time to sort through data, identify students, print certificates, and return them to districts for graduation.

Our students have completed the World Language assessments by the February 28, 2020 deadline, but we are still waiting to see whether they have attained the appropriate cut scores for the English language arts (ELA) assessments.  Can they still receive a Seal of Biliteracy?

Yes. However, if the data is not submitted by the excel sheet submission deadline, we cannot guarantee that a certificate will be available to the students by graduation.  For example, some students will be using the portfolio appeals process which may not be scored until the summer.  Please contact us individually ( or if you know that you will have students using the portfolio review process to demonstrate ELA proficiency this year.

Can our English Language Learners (ELLs) demonstrate ELA proficiency through the portfolio appeals process?

Yes. However, ELLs must submit only English responses (no translations from L1) through the portfolio appeals process to demonstrate English proficiency and be eligible for a Seal of Biliteracy.

Should we include students on the spreadsheet who we anticipate will receive a seal pending portfolio reviews?

No. You should only include the names of students who have already attained all appropriate cut scores and will receive a seal at graduation.

How do we notify you about students who are eligible for a seal after we have submitted the excel spreadsheet to Homeroom?

Please contact us at or for more information about submitting data after the February 28, 2020 deadline.