WASHINGTON — Rep. Julia Brownley is looking to take a program she championed for high school students in California onto the national stage.

The Westlake Village Democrat has filed a bill that would make federal grants available to states that create a State Seal of Biliteracy to recognize high school seniors who graduate with proficiency in English and at least one other language.

Brownley, who two years ago pushed similar legislation through the California Assembly, said she hopes the federal grants will encourage other states to follow California’s lead.

“For a young person to be biliterate and bilingual — they can read and write in a second language — it’s so critical to 21st century skills and jobs,” she said. “I don’t think we as a country do the very best job of this, so it’s critically important for our young people to speak a second language.”

More than 10,000 students earned California’s gold seal last year, the first year of the program. The seal is affixed to the diploma of graduating students who meet certain academic criteria.

“When a college or employer sees the Seal of Biliteracy on a diploma or résumé, they know this is an individual with an important and unique 21st century skill,” Brownley said.

If Brownley’s federal bill becomes law, states that are interested in creating a similar program or improving existing programs could apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Education.

Each state would set up its own set of proficiency standards that students would have to meet to earn the state’s seal. The federal Education Department would determine the size of each state grant.

To fund the program, Congress would appropriate $10 million a year for five years. Brownley’s bill would authorize the federal program but would not allocate any money for it. Congress would have to pass a separate funding bill.

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