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PCI Workshop B

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Thursday,  January 16, 2025

1:00 - 4:00pm

Montgomery, Alabama

Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center

Implementing the Seal of Biliteracy: Voices from the Field

This session is a must for teachers and administrators who would like to establish a Seal of Biliteracy program in their school districts. The Seal of Biliteracy is awarded to graduating high school seniors who have earned qualifying test scores in English and in one or more other languages (including sign language). This accomplishment is recognized at high school graduation where students wear a Seal of Biliteracy medallion and it can also be celebrated at an awards ceremony where students receive a certificate.

By offering the Seal of Biliteracy program at your school, you can broaden horizons for students who are learning English as an additional language and, also, for those who are learning a world language or sign language. By earning the Seal of Biliteracy, your students can benefit when seeking admission to college and, also, when exploring career options.


This panel session starts with the English Learner directors from Mississippi and Alabama explaining the requirements in their states for school districts to establish a Seal of Biliteracy program. This introduction is followed by Voices from the Field — language coordinators from three school districts in Mississippi and three districts in Alabama. These panelists share insights, challenges, successes, and recommendations based on how their districts have been implementing the Seal of Biliteracy. The session ends with attendees brainstorming how to bring the Seal of Biliteracy to their respective school districts.

Panelists

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Sandra Elliott

English Learner Intervention Support Specialist, Office of Elementary Education and Reading, Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), Jackson, MS

Sandra Elliott will share guidelines and requirements established by the MDE for what school districts need to do for implementing and awarding Mississippi’s Seal of Biliteracy, which began in 2018. In her role at the MDE, Sandra provides professional development and technical support to teachers and administrators throughout the state on best practices, instructional guidelines, intervention strategies, and instructional strategies to support English learners.

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Maria Franco

English Language Education and World Language Education Administrator, Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE), Montgomery, AL

Maria Franco will share guidelines and requirements established by the ALSDE for what school districts need to do for implementing and awarding Alabama’s Seal of Biliteracy, which began in 2022. In her role at the ALSDE, Maria provides professional development and technical support to teachers and administrators throughout the state on best practices, instructional guidelines, intervention strategies, and instructional strategies to support English learners.

Language Coordinators from School Districts

Three English learner coordinators from Mississippi and three language coordinators from Alabama will represent Voices from the Field. These six panelists will be from diverse districts regarding size, student demographics, location (rural, urban, suburban), years implementing the Seal of Biliteracy, and languages in which students earned the Seal. Based on their own experiences with coordinating and implementing the Seal of Biliteracy, each of these panelists will share insights, challenges, successes, and recommendations.

Organizer

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Susan Spezzini, Ph.D.

Professor of English Learner Education at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

In 2020, Susan Spezzini was asked to help draft a projected State Seal of Biliteracy Bill, for which she gathered input from stakeholders in 25 Alabama school districts. This draft served as the basis for Alabama Act #2022-200, which, upon being signed by Governor Ivey in April 2022, created the Alabama Seal of Biliteracy. Susan has also promoted the Seal of Biliteracy by giving presentations in college courses and at conferences, meetings, and other events: AMTESOL (2020, 2023), ALSDE’s MEGA (2019, 2024), Alabama Literacy Alliance (2020, 2024), CLAS chapter—Alabama Leaders Advocating for English Learners (2020), American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (2022, Birmingham Southern College), and Alabama International Economic and Education Partnership (2023).

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