Cover: Biliteracy Seals in a Large Urban District in New Mexico

Biliteracy Seals in a Large Urban District in New Mexico

Who Earns Them and How Do They Impact College Outcomes?

Published in: Institute of Education Sciences, Regional Educational Laboratory Program website (December 2022)

Posted on rand.org Feb 7, 2023

by Kata Mihaly, Brenda Arellano, Shannon Prier

New Mexico is one of 48 states that offer a biliteracy seal to high school graduates to recognize their proficiency in a non-English language. The Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest English Learners Research Partnership collaborated with a large urban district in New Mexico to study the characteristics and college readiness of students who earn different types of biliteracy seals (state, district, and global seals) and whether earning a seal improves college outcomes. The study used data from three cohorts of students who graduated from high school in the district from 2017/18 to 2019/20. The study examined the characteristics and college readiness of students who earned different types of seals, the number of students who met some requirements for a seal but did not earn one, and the effect of earning a seal on college outcomes.

Between 2017/18 and 2019/20, 7 percent of graduates earned at least one type of biliteracy seal, and these graduates were more likely than graduates who did not earn a seal to be Hispanic, to be eligible for the National School Lunch Program, to be a current English learner student, to have ever been an English learner student, and to speak Spanish at home. Graduates who earned a biliteracy seal were more likely than similar graduates who did not earn a seal to enroll in college within one year of high school graduation. Finally, among graduates who enrolled in college, graduates who earned a biliteracy seal were more likely than graduates who did not earn a seal to enroll in a four-year college and to enroll full time. The New Mexico Public Education Department and district leaders can use the findings to decide how to expand access to biliteracy seals.

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