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The Student News Site of Everett High School, Everett MA

The Crimson Times

The Student News Site of Everett High School, Everett MA

The Crimson Times

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Seniors prove biliteracy skills to make diploma even more valuable 

Christopher Wright
Outside of World Languages Department Head Andrea Tringali’s office on the third floor, fliers and decals advertise the advantages of earning the coveted Seal of Biliteracy, especially since the school has so many students eligible to take the test.

Over the final few months of the school year, many seniors took the Seal of Biliteracy test. Students from all types of backgrounds are using their skills to get the in-demand stamp on their diploma. 

The Seal of Biliteracy recognizes high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing one or more languages in addition to English.

The main purpose of taking the test is to get a stamp on your diploma to let colleges and employers know you are bilingual. 

“I decided to take the Seal of Biliteracy test to get a sense of completion once I graduate,” senior Vitoria Fernandes said. “I wanted to feel like ‘Yeah I’m bilingual’ and I can show people that I have a skill that not everybody has. I also choose to take the test just to feel rewarded and proud of myself.”

Everett High had a total of roughly 340-375 students who were eligible to sign up for the Seal of Biliteracy this year, and about 260 tests were taken. To be eligible, students need to have passed their ELA MCAS with a score of at least 472. 

The Seal of Biliteracy is granted to all students who meet the criteria for the award. For each level, criteria are set for students whose first language is English who are learning a second language, and for English Learners who are developing academic proficiency in their home language while mastering English.

Students who take the test can be awarded in three certification levels, “Functional Fluency”, “Working Fluency” or “Professional Fluency”. The passing grade of this test is a score of 5 or higher for all 4 parts of the test. When taking the test, you have the chance to retake the speaking and writing part as long as you pass the other two parts of the test.

“I took the tests in Portuguese and Spanish”, senior Julio Andrade said. “I passed Portuguese and I’m waiting for my last section for Spanish, which I believe I can pass. My main concern regarding the test is that many students are taking the test in their native language and not passing some sections.” 

“I believe there is a lot of room for error in the grading of the test,” Andrade said. “This makes it even harder for students to pass their test since it’s not Everett High School itself that grades them. The test itself is not hard, but it can be very long, especially the reading and listening sections.” 

Students that did not get a score of at least 472 in their ELA MCAS are not eligible to take the test even if they speak another language fluently. You can take the test in whatever language you feel the most comfortable with. The tests are provided for students in more than 90 different languages/dialects. 

“I believe the Seal of Biliteracy is a great way for students to get certified that they speak another language without having to actually pay for a test,” senior Julio Andrade said. “Those can be really expensive, and the fact that you can take it in as many languages as we want is great.” 

You can only take the test during your senior year. Everett High school started to focus more on providing the test to students about three years ago. World Language Department Head Andrea Tringali is in charge of providing students with test info and anything else related to the test. 

The test difficulty is based on the accuracy of your answers. Not passing the test does not affect you in any way. The school tries to convince all eligible students to take the test because of the benefits students can get by passing it.

“It was an easy test; at least for me it was,” Fernandes said. “They just want to see if you really know the language. They don’t put anything challenging or anything that requires lots of thinking in the test.” 

“For the students that qualify and choose to not take the test I believe they are missing a great opportunity,” Julio Andrade said. “It’s literally free to get this certification, there is no reason to not take it, even if you are not confident or comfortable enough with the language.”

“A lot of people that I know chose not to take the test because they are shy or they just didn’t want people to know that they speak a different language,” Fernandes said. “I like to believe that if you have the skills to speak a different language even if you are not 100% fluent in it, you should really be proud of it and show everyone that.”

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About the Contributor
Alice Andrade
Alice Andrade, Reporter, Editor
Alice Andrade is a senior who is in her third year of journalism. She is involved in the Newspaper Club and the art department, taking three art classes. Andrade has always shown an interest in art but her art teacher Ms. Pierce further fueled Andrade’s interest in art in junior year. Although interested, Andrade would like to keep journalism and art as a hobby, primarily focusing on forensic science as a career in the near future. “Usually they think of the person that cleans the body up when they die,” Andrade said about people’s perceptions of forensic scientists, “but I definitely don’t want to deal with the dead bodies, just the chill stuff.”

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