UAB professors lead charge of Seal of Biliteracy for Alabama

Chambless and Spezzini’s efforts guided the course of action for Alabama’s Seal of Biliteracy, which recognizes students’ proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation.
Written by: Tehreem khan
Media contact: Brianna Hoge

Stream Chambless and SpezziniKrista Chambless, Ph.D. and Susan Spezzini, Ph.D.Efforts of two University of Alabama at Birmingham faculty and their teams led to the state of Alabama’s acquiring a Seal of Biliteracy, a national program that acknowledges high school students who have achieved a high level of proficiency in English and at least one other language.

Krista Chambless, Ph.D., professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of World Languages and Literatures, introduced the need for a seal in the state of Alabama in 2015 in collaboration with Susan Spezzini, Ph.D., professor in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Chambless led efforts statewide among world language teachers and their school systems, while Spezzini supported these efforts among English language educators statewide and with officials at the Alabama Commission on Higher Education.

“The Seal of Biliteracy provides Alabama’s students the opportunity to earn a credential recognized nationwide and will serve to motivate them to learn another language,” Chambless said. “It has long been known that the skills developed through learning of a language help students to develop strong critical-thinking skills and enable them to be more successful in our globalized society, as well as increasing their value in the work force.”

Upon qualifying for the Seal of Biliteracy, students will have this seal attached to their high school transcript and diploma. To qualify for the seal, they must earn qualifying scores on a standardized exam in the English language (e.g., ACT, ACCESS) and on a standardized exam in a language other than English (e.g., Advanced Placement, STAMP, AAPPL). For a look at the House Bill, click here.

The Seal of Biliteracy was first passed by the California legislature in 2008. As of 2022, 49 states have approved the state seal, including Alabama.