California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson paid a visit to a San Francisco elementary school on Sept. 25 to highlight the record number of bilingual students graduating from California high schools.

During his visit to Bryant Elementary School in the city’s Mission District, Torlakson announced that 55,000 State Seals of Biliteracy were awarded to students across the state last school year.

State Seals of Biliteracy are awarded to graduating high school seniors who have proven they can read, write and speak at least two languages.

The record number of seals awarded last school year are helping advance Torlakson’s Global California 2030 initiative, which aims to expand foreign language instruction and dual-language immersion programs at state schools.

“I’m thrilled that so many of our students are learning a second language that will improve their cognitive abilities, better prepare them for the global economy, and broaden their horizons and understanding of other cultures and nations,” Torlakson said in a statement. “This is a great start in meeting the goals of Global California 2030.”

The initiative seeks to have tripled the number of biliteracy seals currently being awarded to graduating seniors in California to 175,000 by 2030. Additionally, the initiative seeks to quadruple the number of dual immersion programs in the state from about 400 last year to 1,600 by 2030.

During Torlakson’s visit to Bryant Elementary School, Torlakson visited several classrooms and watched the school’s Spanish Biliteracy Pathway program in action.

According to San Francisco Unified School District officials, since the biliteracy program’s implementation at Bryant Elementary School, they’ve seen significant growth in the academic performance of the students enrolled.

The program has been implemented at several other SFUSD schools. Last year, SFUSD awarded more than 700 seals, with about 400 recognized for speaking Mandarin, 230 for Spanish and 50 for Japanese.

Statewide, last year 77 percent of students qualified for the seal demonstrated proficiency in Spanish, while 8 percent showed proficiency in French and 6 percent in Mandarin.

The gold seals are affixed to the qualified students’ diplomas.

According to Torlakson’s office, the State Seal of Biliteracy program began during the 2011-2012 school year, when only about 10,000 students were recognized.

More information about the state seals program can be found at

Story originally published by Bay City News.