WWC review of this study

Biliteracy Seals in a Large Urban District in New Mexico: Who Earns Them and How Do They Impact College Outcomes? REL 2023-140

Mihaly, Kata; Arellano, Brenda; Prier, Shannon (2022). Regional Educational Laboratory Southwest. Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED624239

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
    , grades

Reviewed: November 2023

At least one finding shows moderate evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations
College Enrollment outcomes—Statistically significant positive effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

College Enrollment

Biliteracy seals in New Mexico – Mihaly et al. (2022) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
6,801 students




Show Supplemental Findings

College Enrollment Full Time

Biliteracy seals in New Mexico – Mihaly et al. (2022) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,861 students





College Enrollment - 4 Year Institution

Biliteracy seals in New Mexico – Mihaly et al. (2022) vs. Business as usual

1 Year

Full sample;
4,861 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • 28% English language learners

  • Female: 53%
    Male: 47%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
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    • V
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    • W
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    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
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    • l
    • m
    • n
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    • w
    • y

    New Mexico
  • Race
    Other or unknown
  • Ethnicity
    Not Hispanic or Latino    
  • Eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch
    Free or reduced price lunch (FRPL)    
    No FRPL    


The study took place in 13 New Mexico high schools and consisted of just 12th grade students across three cohorts from 2017/18–2019/20 graduating classes.

Study sample

A total of 13 high schools are included in the sample. A total of 522 intervention and 6279 matched comparison students across New Mexico make up the matched sample. The authors do not provide information on the numbers of teachers included in high schools. Approximately 28% of the students in both intervention and comparison conditions are classified as English learners at some point over the course of their educational career. Approximately 27% of students in the analytic sample speak Spanish at home, 30% are eligible for the National School lunch program and 74% identify as Hispanic. The sample was also 47% male.

Intervention Group

New Mexico awards biliteracy seals to high school graduates to recognize their proficiency in a non-English language. The current study focuses on the effect of earning a seal on college outcomes. Biliteracy seals provide a process for the New Mexico Public Education Department and school districts to encourage students to pursue proficiency in an additional non-English language and demonstrate their language skills to future employers as well as college admissions officers. Students could demonstrate these literacy skills across their high school course of study. Students complete the biliteracy seal through one of two common routes, the assessment and portfolio pathways. For the assessment pathway, students must earn a C or higher in four credits in the same non-English language course and then demonstrate proficiency on an assessment in the same language. For the portfolio pathway students must also earn a C or higher and then create a portfolio demonstrating their biliteracy skills by presenting their portfolio to a panel.

Comparison Group

The comparison condition consists of students who did not earn a biliteracy seal from either the state or their district. Students may have attempted but not earned a seal or have never attempted to earn a seal. The authors created the comparison condition by using an entropy balancing matching technique, outlined in Hainmueller, 2012; Zhao, 2019; Zhao & Percival, 2017.

Support for implementation

The authors do not mention any supports for implementation.


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