Martinez HB4330CHICAGO — A new law that will help students meet foreign language requirements when they apply for college becomes effective Jan. 1, 2017.

Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored the initiative in the Illinois Senate.

Under the new law, state universities and community colleges would have to accept the State Seal of Biliteracy as the equivalent of two years of foreign language learning taken during high school.

The State Seal of Biliteracy, which Martinez worked to establish, is awarded to high school students demonstrating proficiency in English and at least one other language.

“This law will help our students,” Martinez said. “We live in a global society, making it critically important for our economy and culture that bilingual education is promoted. Students attaining a State Seal of Biliteracy will now be guaranteed college credit for participating in the program.”

House Bill 4330 provides that the rules the Illinois State Board of Education establishes for the program must ensure that a student meets two years of foreign language requirements for college admissions purposes.

It’s optional for schools to offer a State Seal of Biliteracy to students. For the 2015-16 school year, 54 Illinois school districts were approved to award the State Seal of Biliteracy.

The law also requires state universities and community colleges to establish criteria to translate a State Seal of Biliteracy into course credit.

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