Boulder Valley School District

BVSD's Bilingual Commendation Celebrates Linguistic Diversity

Students Bilingual and Proud celebration
Alejandra Corchado-Rodriguez

En Español

The Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) is working to recognize more students than ever before for their bilingual skills thanks to a newly introduced bilingual commendation. The commendation allows bilingual high school students to demonstrate their bilingualism to future employers and colleges and universities. The new commendation supports BVSD’s Bilingual and Proud campaign which celebrates and embraces language diversity in BVSD through its dual language programming and beyond.

Introduced in 2023 by BVSD's Office of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE), the commendation honors students who achieve speaking and listening proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation.

The Bilingual Commendation and the more recognizable Seal of Biliteracy are both prestigious honors offered by BVSD, but they differ in their criteria and recognition. The Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to students who exhibit proficiency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking in two or more languages by high school graduation, emphasizing biliteracy. It is ideal for those with high academic performance in English and other languages, recognized by a green cord, a special certificate, and inclusion on transcripts, college applications, and resumes. 

The Bilingual Commendation celebrates students who demonstrate speaking and listening proficiency in multiple languages, making it accessible to those just below the Seal's 3.0 GPA requirement in English or for students who speak languages without standardized tests. Recipients of the commendation receive a special certificate, an invitation to BVSD's Bilingual & Proud celebration, and can highlight this achievement on their college applications and resumes. 

The Seal focuses on comprehensive language skills, while the Bilingual Commendation highlights oral proficiency and inclusivity for students of diverse linguistic backgrounds, but both help students stand apart in their college and career paths.

“Just because a student does not meet the Seal of Biliteracy’s GPA requirement does not mean they aren't bilingual or shouldn't be recognized for their language skills,” said Wendy Sparrow, Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Education Coordinator. “Bilingualism encompasses more than academic performance in English; it includes the ability to effectively communicate, understand, and appreciate multiple languages and cultures.”

The Bilingual Commendation recognizes and celebrates these abilities, offering students acknowledgement for linguistic proficiency and cultural competence, regardless of their GPA in English classes. The commendation also provides an inclusive way to celebrate the linguistic achievements of bilingual students, even in the absence of standardized assessments which are often used to qualify students for the Seal of Biliteracy. 

“This is an opportunity for students to be recognized even if there is not yet a standards-based Measurement of Proficiency (STAMP) assessment in their language,” shared Sparrow. 

To qualify, students must demonstrate proficiency in both English and another language. This involves completing 20 community service or work hours using both English and their non-English language, and delivering a presentation followed by a Q&A session. The presentations answer questions about bilingualism and its impact on the student, their communities, and the world. Interested students can speak to the Grad Plus TOSA at their high school for assistance completing the application and begin the process to earn their BVSD Bilingual Commendation.

Student with parents at the Bilingual & Proud Celebration

The students give their presentations at BVSD’s annual Bilingual & Proud celebration in the spring at the BVSD Education Center. The celebration is held each year to celebrate 5th and 8th grade bilingual students and their families who are on the pathway to earning the Seal of Biliteracy by graduation.

"Younger students really look up to their older peers, and this is a great opportunity for recipients to showcase their skills while also demonstrating to the younger kids where the bilingual pathway can take them or how it can benefit them," shared Sparrow.

As BVSD continues to expand its dual language programming and fostering of bilingualism, the Bilingual Commendation provides a way for more BVSD students to leverage their language skills for future opportunities.

“We will continue working to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where all languages are celebrated and honored,” shared Sparrow.

CLDE team at the Bilingual & Proud celebration

The CLDE BVSD team at the Bilingual and Proud celebration

 


 

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