Skip to main content
Ithaca Schools - click for home 
Ithaca City Schools - click for home

NYS Seal of Biliteracy

Congratulations Ithaca Class of 2020!

The ICSD is proud to offer the New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) to eligible seniors. To learn more about the NYSSB, check out our FAQs, handbooks, and resources below. 

What is the New York State Seal of Biliteracy?
In recognition of the importance of bilingualism, many states, including New York, award a seal of biliteracy to students who have studied and attained a high proficiency in two or more languages by their high school graduation.

The New York State Seal of Biliteracy (NYSSB) was first signed into law by Governor Cuomo in 2012, and was officially adopted by the Board of Regents in 2016. The intent of the NYSSB is to—
  • encourage the study of languages;
  • identify high school graduates with language and biliteracy skills for employers;
  • provide universities with additional information about applicants seeking admission;
  • prepare students with twenty-first century skills;
  • recognize the value of foreign and native language instruction in schools; and
  • affirm the value of diversity in a multilingual society.
Why is the Ithaca City School District implementing the NYSSB?

The Ithaca City School District began awarding the seal to eligible students in 2018-2019. The Seal of Biliteracy encourages students to pursue and maintain biliteracy and bilingualism, honors the skills our students attain, and can be evidence of skills that are attractive to future employers and college admissions offices.

What is required of students?

To be awarded the NYSSB, students must complete all requirements for graduating with a Regents diploma and successfully demonstrate proficiency in English and another world language.

The target level of proficiency is set at Intermediate High. Intermediate High speakers are those who "are able to converse with ease and confidence when dealing with the routine tasks and social situations of the Intermediate level. They are able to handle successfully uncomplicated tasks and social situations requiring an exchange of basic information related to their work, school, recreation, particular interests, and areas of competence."

Students demonstrate their proficiency in two languages by earning points, which are awarded based on grades in English and ENL/world language courses, Regents exams, presentations, and more.

The full list of NYSSB requirements—with options for native speakers of English, students who speak a language other than English at home, and English language learners—can be found here.

How do students apply for the NYSSB program?

All seniors interested in attaining the NYSSB must fill out a Seal of Biliteracy application, which is a formal declaration of candidacy and includes a checklist of requirements.

The NYSSB application is for seniors only and is due November 1 of their senior year. 

Juniors who are interested in working towards earning the Seal of Biliteracy need to fill out an ICSD NYSSB Statement of Intent form. Students may submit the Statement of Intent during their junior year, or before October 31 of their senior year.

Where can I find more information?

Helpful NYSSB handbooks and resources can be found below. Additionally, the ICSD Seal of Biliteracy Committee hosts a Family Information Night every October to answer questions and hand out applications. Please direct all further inquiries to Emily Ufford, NYSSB Committee Chair, at