Educating for Success in the 21st Century: K-16 Partnerships in Global Education
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, signed into law on January 8, 2002, signaled a new approach to how the federal government supports elementary and secondary education. NCLB was both a vehicle for change and a statement of purpose for the U.S. Department of Education (ED), emphasizing the critical national importance of both excellence in education and access to quality teaching. Four principles for education reform guide an array of programs with the common goal of providing high quality education to all. These principles include: (a) stronger, results-oriented accountability; (b) increased flexibility and local control; (c) expanded options for parents; and (d) an emphasis on teaching methods that have been proven to be effective.
The NCLB Act provided a strong foundation for ED's work. Its emphasis on student learning outcomes in reading, science and math represents a solid approach to assessing and addressing areas of weakness in U.S. elementary and secondary education. Indeed, student learning outcomes in these disciplines are fundamental indicators of our schools' quality and of our nation's future promise. But they are not the only measures of educational excellence; nor are they, alone, sufficient for ensuring Americans' ability to live, work, and compete successfully in an increasingly interconnected world.
Today's teachers face special challenges in increasingly multicultural classrooms. The number of students whose home language is different from the language spoken at school is rapidly increasing. According to the United States Bureau of the Census March 2000 Current Population Survey, there are now 11.5 million children in the United States whose parents are immigrants. Against this backdrop, there is a growing need for educators to teach effectively about international issues, to instill in their students an appreciation for other cultures, and to engage students in the bigger picture by linking their local lives to global events. NCLB recognized the critical impact of literacy on the classroom learning environment; at the same time, ED is working to expand teachers' and their students' intercultural literacy, so that today's classrooms will be nurturing learning environments while providing an entry into new worlds for all students.
The International Education Programs Service (IEPS) is leading ED's effort to expand intercultural literacy and global understanding. IEPS administers a comprehensive array of programs that foster innovation in teaching, access to critical knowledge bases, and development of pedagogical strategies and resources America's teachers need to do their jobs well. Founded on the premise that professional development opportunities and curricular resources are essential for strengthening national capacity to prepare students for life in the 21st century, IEPS programs adopt an expansive approach. By establishing resource centers, encouraging broad-based dissemination strategies and prioritizing activities involving members of traditionally-underrepresented communities, these programs reach teachers from a variety of schools and communities, serving students of all different backgrounds across the country.
IEPS grant programs are authorized under Title VI of the Higher Education Act and the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange (Fulbright-Hays) Act of 1961. With these programs, IEPS is helping to bridge the gap between K-12 (elementary and secondary) and postsecondary institutions. Colleges and universities are working with teachers across the United States, preparing them through pre-service education, in-service professional development opportunities, and curricular resources that allow them to incorporate global perspectives into their classrooms. These K-16 partnerships facilitate curricular innovation and quality teaching -- key objectives of the NCLB Act. They help to ensure that the main goal - access to high quality education for all students -- is achieved.
Stronger, results-oriented accountability is fostered through the Title VI International Research & Studies and Language Resource Centers programs under which grantees are working to develop new teaching strategies, materials, and assessment instruments for use in K-16 classrooms. Increased flexibility and local control allow Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad grantees to create overseas study and curriculum development opportunities that will best serve teachers and state and local school systems. Title VI Centers for International Business Education and National Resource Centers assist schools in designing internationally-focused curricula, expanding parents' options for their children to study foreign languages, international business, and the world outside America's borders. All Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs foster the development, utilization, and dissemination of teaching methods that have been proven to be effective; for example, Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad give teachers the opportunity to engage in intensive study with curriculum development experts while immersed in a foreign culture.
As ED's guiding initiative, No Child Left Behind underscored the importance of the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs' ongoing efforts. K-16 partnerships are a key strategy for achieving quality in elementary and secondary teaching. ED has been working to create and expand these partnerships in international education, to help teachers and schools, and to make critical knowledge available to a variety of constituencies for years to come.
- National Center for Education Statistics: http://nces.ed.gov/
- U.S. Department of Education's International Education Programs Service, with links to individual program sites: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/iegps/index.html