Celebrating biliteracy and bilingual education

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, Deputy Superintendent Brad Stam, Principal Laura Codicetti, Assistant Principal Esther Adames, and SFUSD student speakers

On Sept. 25, the San Francisco Unified School District welcomed a special visitor -- the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson came to Bryant Elementary School to celebrate SFUSD’s accomplishments in biliteracy and bilingual education.

After being serenaded by the Bryant Mariachi group, SFUSD Deputy Superintendent Brad Stam and three SFUSD students took to the stage to share how SFUSD supports students in learning more than one language.

Multilingualism and multiculturalism are assets that SFUSD aims to develop and nurture in our students. It is an essential part of our graduate profile as we prepare our students with the skills they need to succeed in the future. SFUSD currently offers over 70 language programs covering at least 8 languages, including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Italian, and French.

Superintendent Torlakson earlier this year launched the Global California 2030 initiative, which aims to dramatically increase the number of students who will learn to speak more than one language, and supports SFUSD’s vision to provide the opportunity for every student to become multilingual and multicultural.

At Bryant’s event, Superintendent Torlakson announced that a record 55,000 State Seals of Biliteracy were awarded in 2017-18 throughout California. Seals of Biliteracy signify fluency in another language.

At SFUSD, nearly 750 graduates of the class of 2018 -- that’s about 20% of all graduates -- were awarded a Seal of Biliteracy. Languages represented by SFUSD seal recipients included Mandarin, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Latin.

Bryant Elementary School offers a Spanish Biliteracy Program for English Learners designed to provide access to the core curriculum in both Spanish and English, so that English Learners are able to continue to develop and maintain their home language while learning English and gaining multilingual skills that will most certainly benefit them in their future.

Over the last several years the staff at Bryant have been providing intentional and strategic supports for their English Learners, which have resulted in significant growth in academic performance in their Spanish Biliteracy Program.