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This shortcoming has both local and far-reaching effects ranging from immigrants who try to make themselves understood to the business person who must negotiate with foreign governments (Firoz, Maghrabi & Lee 2002). Leon Panetta, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, stated, “To stay competitive in the global society, the U.S. needs more people with foreign language proficiency” (Picard, 2010, para. 3).
Although the population of the United States has expanded through several generations of immigrants, command of foreign languages is not as prevalent in the United States as it is in other countries in the world. For Example, in the European Union, more than 50% of the population is functionally communicative in their native language plus one more (Hulstrand, 2008). Data from the 2007 American Community Survey captured information on language use by members of the US population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Less than half (42.7%) of 5- to 17-year-olds had English-only speaking ability. More (72.4%) 18- to 40-year-olds were English-only proficient, and even more (78.3%) of individuals ages 41 to 64 years were English-only proficient. Of those 65 years old or older, 32.6% spoke only English (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).
There is a need to increase the numbers of students who are proficient in a second language in addition to English. Beginning with entrance into school at 5 years of age, and continuing through high school and beyond, students could benefit from a dual-language instruction (DLI) or two-way immersion (TWI) program. Lindholm-Leary and Borsato stated, “High school students who participated in the TWI program developed high levels of academic competence and motivation, ambitions to go to college, knowledge about how to apply to and get into college, and pride in bilingualism” (p. 1). Students who participate in TWI programs become proficient in more than one language into adulthood and are able to contribute a global society (Estrada, Gomez, & Ruiz-Escalante, 2009). Denver, Colorado, maintains a largely monolingual school district at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The district is considered to have a high-mobility population; students in this school district have moved more than once, and up to three times or more in any given school year (Denver Public Schools [DPS], 2010). The Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), implemented in 2002 to address the standards imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 ([NCLB] 2002), is the state-mandated test that all students from Grade 3 through Grade 12 must take. NCLB obligates every teacher to be highly qualified in their specialty subject(s), including reading. Fifth-grade English language learners (ELLs) and English language proficient (ELP students in largely monolingual public schools in Denver have consistently shown little to no progress in reading (DPS, 2010). What little progress has been reported by the CSAP since 2005—only a 9 percentage-point median growth for students across the district, regardless of ethnicity (Colorado Department of Education, 2011)—is cause for concern. From a starting level of 46 percentage points in 2005, students’ CSAP scores in reading have risen and fallen unpredictably. In 2006, scores for progress in reading rose to 49 percentage points. In 2007, scores for progress in reading plummeted to 42 percentage points. Scores rose to 53 percentage points in 2008 and fell again to 50 percentage points in 2009. Finally in 2010, reading across the district rose again to 55 percentage points (DPS, 2010). The DPS district is not the only one in the state or any other state with high numbers of ELLs who are experiencing reading problems (Goldenberg,
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