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 on February 07, 2023
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.