|| Speeches and Testimony
Acting Director, Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations
Fiscal Year 2001 Request for Bilingual and Immigrant Education
April 6, 2000
Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
I am pleased to appear before the Committee today to testify on the fiscal year 2001 budget request for Bilingual and Immigrant Education programs. These programs provide critical assistance to the Nation's school districts to improve services for more than 3 million limited English proficient (LEP) students. The fiscal year 2001 budget request of $460 million for Bilingual and Immigrant Education strongly supports our policy of helping school districts build their capacity to teach English to LEP students and to help these students achieve to the same high standards established for all students.
LIMITED ENGLISH PROFICIENT STUDENTS
The population served by the programs in this account has grown dramatically over the past decade. According to State educational agencies, between the 1989-90 and 1996-97 school years the number of LEP students grew by almost 60 percent. Even though three States -- California, New York, and Texas -- continue to enroll the majority of these students, with 63 percent, because of rapid growth in other States their share of the Nation's LEP students is declining. In 10 States (Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, and Tennessee) the limited English proficient population more than doubled between school years 1992-93 and 1996-97. For the 1996-97 school year, the States and the District of Columbia reported a total of 3.4 million LEP students, up from 2.5 million in school year 1992-93. As a result of this growth, LEP students are increasingly enrolled in schools that have little prior experience in serving them.
In addition, the rapid growth in LEP students has made the shortage of bilingual and English as a second language teachers increasingly acute. For example, the California State educational agency alone reports a current shortage of more than 20,000 teachers. Also, the Final Report on Limited English Proficient Students from the Title I Prospects study (1998), concluded that less than half of LEP students have regular teachers certified in either bilingual education or English as a second language. Another study, Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers (1999), found that while 54 percent of all teachers now have LEP students in their classroom, only one-fifth of the teachers of LEP students felt very well prepared to serve them.
Census data suggest that instructional programs for LEP students, including the programs we fund, are effective in teaching English. While the number of children who speak a language other than English at home grew by 1.8 million during the past decade, 71 percent of that increase was among those children who speak English very well. The data thus indicate that language minority students in 1990 were significantly more proficient in English than language minority students in 1980.
The authorizations under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) expire at the end of fiscal year 2000. Consequently, we are requesting funds for Bilingual and Immigrant Education under the Administration's ESEA reauthorization proposal, the Educational Excellence for All Children Act.In the case of bilingual programs, our reauthorization proposal includes a series of changes that would significantly increase grantee accountability for implementing effective programs. For example, the proposal requires grantees to submit annual evaluations rather than the biennial evaluations required by current law. As part of these annual evaluations, grantees would report reclassification rates for participating students as well as data on the academic achievement of reclassified students for two years after they are reclassified. Our proposal also would make fourth- and fifth-year continuation grants for instructional services contingent on the grantees' ability to show that students are making continuous and substantial progress in learning English and achieving to challenging State content and performance standards.
Last year, the Committee's report language directed the Department to focus its Government Performance and Results Act indicators for the Instructional Services program on the speed of transition of limited English proficient (LEP) students to regular classes. The Department has added an indicator on transition to regular classes and expects to be able to report data to the Committee next year on how Instructional Services grantees are performing against that indicator. The Department recently contacted States and determined that students typically exit bilingual programs in three to four years. However, States reported considerable variation in the amount of time required, which is affected by the student's age, educational experience, literacy in the home language, and other factors. The Committee also indicated that the Department should adopt a new indicator for Support Services relating to the degree to which local educational agencies access training and technical assistance services. We are looking at possible indicators to measure school district satisfaction with technical assistance for inclusion next year. Finally, the Committee urged the Department to adopt an indicator specific to the Bilingual Fellowship activity that measures its impact on the expansion of capacity of institutions to train bilingual teachers. We have added an indicator that tracks the numbers of fellows who are employed training classroom teachers and in other positions directly related to serving LEP students. Current program data indicate that 92 percent of fellows subsequently train classroom teachers to work with LEP students or work in positions directly related to serving LEP students.
Because of the number of Hispanic students served through the Federal bilingual education program, these programs represent an integral part of the Administrations Hispanic Education Action Plan. The Department makes three different types of Bilingual Education grants, all of which benefit Hispanic students. Grants for Instructional Services provide direct assistance to school districts to implement comprehensive, high-quality instructional programs for limited English proficient students and to integrate these programs within the overall school academic program. Support Services grants go to State educational agencies to provide assistance to school districts seeking to improve the quality of their instruction for limited English proficient students. The Department also makes awards for a National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, Academic Excellence grants, and for research. Bilingual Education also includes Professional Development grants, primarily to colleges and universities, to train instructional staff.
For Instructional Services, our request is $180 million, $17.5 million more than the 2000 appropriation. This increase would fund an estimated 113 more projects than in 2000. In 2001, the Department will emphasize instructional services grants to school districts that have experienced a recent influx of LEP students and have little prior experience in serving these students. Because more than 70 percent of all limited English proficient students are Spanish speakers, promoting the educational success of LEP students through bilingual programs supported under Instructional Services directly addresses the high dropout rate for Hispanic students.
For Support Services, our request is $16 million, $2 million more than in 2000. The request will provide grants to all States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories to enable them to work with schools to improve the quality of instructional programs for LEP students. The request also provides funding for the National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education, which last year responded to 4.4 million requests for information. The dramatic increase in use of the Clearinghouse over the past few years reflects the growth in the LEP population, the presence of these students in districts that have little experience in serving them, and educators' increasing need for current information on serving LEP students. Under Support Services, we would also support studies and evaluations needed to chart progress towards the performance goals established for this program in compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act. Finally, the Department requests $200,000 for the Academic Excellence grants to States activity and $490,000 for grants to develop instructional materials in languages where materials are currently unavailable.
The Department requests $100 million for Professional Development, $28.5 million more than the amount appropriated in 2000. This amount would fund an additional 131 preservice and inservice projects to consortia of colleges and universities and local and State educational agencies. The request also provides funding for 195 more fellowship awards than in 2000. Under the reauthorization proposal, the four different Professional Development grant activities would each be targeted to different types of professional development. A 1992 evaluation of bilingual professional development projects found that our program is extremely effective in preparing teachers to teach LEP students; this study found that 77 percent of the participants in the program subsequently obtained employment teaching LEP students.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE ASSISTANCE
The optimal time to begin learning a second language is in elementary school, when children have the greatest ability to learn and excel in a foreign language. However, less than one-third of elementary schools in the United States offer foreign language instruction. This program constitutes an investment in high-quality elementary foreign language programs and contributes to making the Nation more competitive in the global economy. The $14 million requested for Foreign Language Assistance, a $6 million increase over 2000, would continue 65 prior projects and fund 49 new awards to increase the number of high-quality foreign language programs in elementary schools.
The $150 million requested for Immigrant Education is the same funding level as 2000. The program makes grants to States for use by school districts that enroll large numbers of recently arrived immigrant students. Recent studies demonstrate the magnitude of the burden of providing public education to immigrant students, particularly in some of the most populous States, such as California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey. The request will help meet the needs of districts significantly affected by the influx of recent immigrant students. The Administration's reauthorization proposal would permit States to allocate all or part of the funds on a discretionary rather than a formula basis, as appropriations acts of the last 5 years have also permitted. This language provides States with the flexibility to channel funds to those districts most in need of assistance and in amounts that make a difference.
My colleagues and I will be happy to respond to any questions you have regarding the 2001 budget request for Bilingual and Immigrant Education.
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Last Updated -- [4/05/2000] (mjj)