Seal of Biliteracy assessment approaches, teachers, students reflect


In 2022, 183 seniors received the Seal of Biliteracy. An additional 117 juniors were also qualified to earn the Seal. The Class of 2018 were the first Staples students to obtain the Seal of Biliteracy after Governor Dannel Malloy signed Public Act 17-29 on June 6, 2017, which established the Connecticut Seal of Biliteracy. Graphic by Lily Hultgren ’25.

This March, Staples juniors and seniors who are currently enrolled in a world language class will be taking the Seal of Biliteracy language proficiency assessment, the STAMP (Standards-based Measurement of Proficiency) test, in order to evaluate their levels of proficiency in the language they are taking. 

The tests will be administered to juniors and seniors during their world language class. 

“Students are tested in four domains: reading comprehension, writing, listening comprehension and speaking,” Maria Zachery, Westport Public Schools World Languages Coordinator, K-12 and Staples High School World Language Department Chair said. “Latin is the only exception, it is a reading comprehension test.” 

Students must meet a certain level of proficiency in two or more languages (one of them can be English) to be qualified to receive the recognition. 

“All students who earn Intermediate-Mid or higher on all four parts of the test will be eligible to receive the Seal of Biliteracy upon graduation,” Zachery said. “[Students] must also complete four years of Language Arts. Starting in the spring of 2023, juniors will receive a designation of eligibility on their transcript once they meet the second language requirement. The actual award will be added to the final transcript at the end of senior year.” 

One student taking the exam this year is Ryan Salik ’23, who is currently in his seventh year of taking Mandarin. 

“I’m not very confident that I will pass,” Salik said. “I have not prepared for it and I don’t think we will dedicate class time specifically to preparing for the test besides taking the practice to make sure it works on our laptops.”

Despite his low expectations, Salik still acknowledges the positives of the Seal of Biliteracy test. 

“I think [the test] is worthwhile since it lets multilingual people showcase their skills,” Salik said. “ I think, for those who earn it, it’s a great addition to college or job applications.” 

“I really liked [the test]. I think that it really helped me learn how to think on the spot because in a classroom setting you have your teachers to help you, you have your friends to help you, and I thought that [taking] it was kind of like a cool experience.

— Alexa Lunney '23

Spanish teacher Andrea Vielmetti who is currently teaching students that will be taking the exam explained what she is currently doing in class to help her students prepare for the upcoming assessment. 

“For my juniors, for the kids who are going to be taking the assessment, [we are practicing] everything,” Vielmetti said. “A lot of reading, a lot of writing, a lot of speaking, a lot of listening in Spanish of course. Just to get them ready for the test so they feel comfortable when the time comes.”

Previously, Vielmetti instructed students that took the 2022 exam. She expressed pride regarding their success, as well as her thoughts on how she thinks her current classes will do. 

“[Last year’s students] did a magnificent job, I was very proud,” Vielmetti said. “So I really hope that this year [my current students] also do a good job, I mean we’ve been preparing for it so I’m confident that they are going to do a very good job.” 

Last year, Alexa Lunney ’23, who started learning Spanish in elementary school but began more in-depth studies in sixth grade, took the assessment and received her Seal of Biliteracy in the springtime of 2022. She will be taking the test again this year, as is required. 

“I really liked [the test],” Lunney said. “ I think that it really helped me learn how to think on the spot because in a classroom setting you have your teachers to help you, you have your friends to help you, and I thought that [taking] it was kind of like a cool experience.”

As for this year’s upcoming assessment, Lunney shares her advice for the juniors and seniors taking it. 

“Do what you know because it’s not as stressful as it seems because the test progresses with you so whatever answers you show, if they’re right or wrong, it’ll give you questions that are on your level so it’s not going to be super hard if that’s not in your range of comfortability,” Lunney said. “So my advice would be just go with it.”