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5 Reducing Shortages of Foreign Language and Area Experts A s this report describes, the Title VI and Fulbright-Hays (Title VI/FH) programs, under current law and by virtue of the way the programs are administered, support the creation and maintenance of a broad skill base and a long-term national capacity in languages and area studies about every region of the world. They seek to create a pool of language and area expertise for use not only in government, but also across the education system, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and business. Although they are aimed at creating a broad reservoir of expertise in a wide variety of languages and areas, they can also help provide a modest pipeline into the government to help address more immediate needs brought about by rapidly changing geopolitics. This is not, however, the programsâ primary statutory purpose. The committeeâs charge called for us to review the extent to which Title VI/FH helps to reduce âshortagesâ of foreign language and area experts. As outlined in Chapter 2, we have not conducted a systematic assessment of the extent to which shortages exist, but instead acknowledge that the significant demand for people with foreign language, area, and international skills for government service, academia, K-12 education, and business sug- gests that there is a significant unmet need. The Title VI/FH programs can help to address this unmet need in at least three ways: (1) producing graduates with language, area, and inter- national skills who find employment in relevant fields, (2) serving as a â Forthis reason the committee does not use the term âshortage,â referring instead to âde- mandâ or âunmet need.â 113
114 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES resource to government and other organizations to address unmet needs more indirectly, and (3) producing graduates with increased levels of foreign language proficiency. It is extremely difficult, however, for the committee to answer the questions that Congress and critics of Title VI/FH are ask- ing about the effectiveness of these programs in meeting the unmet needs in these areas, because of the lack of good data. This chapter reviews the limited available evidence of the programsâ effectiveness in these areas, but much of the discussion focuses on data limitations. JOB PLACEMENTS The Title VI/FH programs overall play a role in internationalizing the educational experience of undergraduates and graduates in the U.S. higher education system. The programs promote international coursework, foreign language study, and overseas experiences as important parts of education in their own right. Consistent with several other recent national reports (Committee for Economic Development, 2006; Commission on the Abra- ham Lincoln Study Abroad Fellowship Program, 2005; U.S. Department of Education, 2006a), the committee embraces the value of an understanding of foreign languages and cultures as part of studentsâ general education. Among the portfolio of Title VI/FH programs, the National Resource Centers (NRC), Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, and Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) programs have a particular emphasis on producing graduates with lan- guage, area, and international expertise, although as reported in the previ- ous chapter, this expertise is distributed among students from a wide range of disciplines. The NRCs are required to report via the Evaluation of Exchange, Language, International and Area Studies (EELIAS) database system the aggregate number of job placements of its âgraduatesââdefined as students with 15 or more area studies or language credit hoursâand of FLAS recipients who have graduated, in multiple sector categories, including higher education, elementary or secondary education, federal government, military, state or local government, nonprofit international organization, for-profit international organization, nonprofit business, and for-profit business. A graduate school category is included to capture those who continue their education. Finally, a category for unemployed or out of the labor market and one for unknown are also included. During grant competitions, NRC applicants generally report similar placement data in their applications to demonstrate their past performance. NRCs often con- duct surveys of graduates so that the information includes job placements â Placement information for CIBER graduates is discussed in Chapter 9 on addressing busi- ness needs.
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 115 not only of graduates in any given year (as required in EELIAS) but also of all graduates and the jobs they obtain later in their careers. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has included job placement of NRC and certain FLAS graduates, as well as language proficiency of FLAS fellows (see the section on proficiency) as national performance measures under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). The NRC measures have been in place since 1991 and, for the FLAS Program, since 1994. In reporting under GPRA, ED measures the performance of the NRC and FLAS Programs based in part on the combined percentage of graduates in each program who find employment in higher education, government, or the military. Although data are reported on bachelorâs, masterâs, and Ph.D. recipients, ED has in the past reported on Ph.D. graduates only. EDâs new performance measure, recently approved by the Office of Management and Budget, will include masterâs graduates. Graduates with bachelorâs degrees are excluded because of the high likelihood that they will continue with their education rather than seek employment, and because of greater difficulty identifying the job placement for these graduates. ED measures performance based on a combined category that includes higher educa- tion, government, and the military, given their view that the programs are designed to provide experts for both academia and government. ED has reported an increase from 48.5 percent in 2001 to 71.8 percent in 2004 among Ph.D. students, as well as 16 percent of FLAS Ph.D. graduates in 2004, but the committee was unable to duplicate the numbers and ED was unable to clarify the methodology used prior to 2004. In 2004, the NRC graduate percentage was based on employed students only; it excluded stu- dents for whom placement was not known, students who continued with graduate study, and students who were not employed. For FLAS recipients, the percentage is based on only the FLAS Ph.D. students who graduated in the year in which they received a FLAS award. At least three problems arise from the approach of reporting a single percentage for the combined category. First, we do not know the specific percentage of those going into each of the subcategories of government, military, and higher education. Second, it adopts a narrow definition of suc- cess. For example, those going into the private sector or the nonprofit arena are not counted as a âsuccessâ (e.g., a Ph.D. who finds employment with a defense contractor or a nonprofit contractor to the U.S. Department of State would not be counted as a success, even though each may be performing a task of value to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.) Similarly, someone who works for a nonprofit organization on international issues would not be considered a success. Third, it is difficult to make judgments about â ED has performance targets that increase slightly each year for each of these two measures.
116 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES TABLE 5-1â Cumulative Placements of Slavic and Middle Eastern Studies Students from Title VI-Funded Institutions, 2001 to 2003, N and (%) Elementary Area and and State and Degree Secondary Federal U.S. Local Foreign Graduate Granted Education Government Military Government Government Study Russian and East European Studies (2,452 records of student placement)a B.A. 100 74 40 32 1 398 (n = 1,852) (5.3) (3.9) (2.1) (1.7) (0) (21.4) M.A. 4 25 34 3 6 137 (n = 365) (1.0) (6.8) (9.3) (.8) (1.6) (37.5) Ph.D. 2 9 0 0 3 8 (n = 233) (.8) (3.8) (0) (0) (.8) (3.4) Middle East Studies (788 records of student placement)b B.A. 47 32 7 24 0 186 (n = 715) (6.5) (4.4) (.1) (3.3) (0) (26) M.A. 7 12 1 0 3 93 (n = 182) (.5) (6.6) (.5) (0) (1.6) (51.1) Ph.D. 1 3 0 0 0 6 (n = 87) (1.1) (3.4) (0) (0) (0) (6.9) aData were available for 2,452 of 3,414 students. bData were available for 788 of 2,094 students. SOURCE: Adapted from Brecht et al. (2007). whether the above placement rates are good, bad, or indifferent without some data from comparable groups, such as graduates with similar degrees who did not receive an FLAS Fellowship or attended an institution without an NRC. Placement rates for a similar comparison group would shed light on whether the Title VI/FH programs add value in terms of employment. Universities have raised legitimate concerns about whether they are being held accountable for the wrong measure. These problems are further aggravated by the fact that, although ED collects data that would enable more detailed reporting, except for special requests, placement information other than what is submitted for GPRA is generally not made available outside of ED. Where Graduates Are Going A recent evaluation by Brecht et al. (2007) examines, in more detail than does ED, the career paths of graduates from Title VI-funded Slavic and
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 117 International International Private Private Higher Organizations, Organizations, Sector, Sector, Education U.S.-based Outside U.S. For-Profit Nonprofit Unemployed Other 64 31 37 773 127 175 0 (3.4) (1.6) (1.9) (41.7) (6.8) (9.4) (0) 47 9 18 47 25 10 0 (12.8) (2.4) (4.9) (12.8) (6.8) (2.7) (0) 157 2 9 19 8 14 2 (67.4) (.8) (3.9) (8.1) (3.4) (6.0) (0) 73 20 6 231 50 39 0 (10.2) (2.8) (.8) (32.3) (6.9) (5.4) (0) 20 1 3 29 8 5 0 (11.0) (.5) (1.6) (16.0) (4.4) (2.7) (0) 57 1 2 7 7 3 0 (65.5) (1.1) (2.3) (8.5) (8.5) (3.4) (0) Middle Eastern language and area studies programs, based on a more de- tailed analysis of EELIAS data. These are summarized in Table 5-1. Place- ments were not known for roughly a third of the Slavic studies students and more than half of the Middle East studies students. The data do not include graduates of other world area centers. Nonetheless, some patterns are discernible from the table for graduates in these two fields: â¢ Most undergraduates tend to go on either to work in the private sector or to continue with graduate study. â¢ The placements of students with masterâs degrees are more dis- persed, with the highest number continuing with graduate study. â¢ About two-thirds of students with Ph.D.s find employment at in- stitutions of higher education. â As the developers of the EELIAS system, Brecht and colleagues had direct access to the underlying data.
118 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES TABLE 5-2â Job Placements of NRC Graduates in 2000, as Reported by ED Percentage of Graduates Field Bachelorâs Masterâs Ph.D. Total Elementary/secondary 3.6 4.5 1.7 3.6 â education Federal government 2.1 4.4 2.8 2.3 U.S. military 0.9 1.2 0.3 0.9 State and local government 1.4 2.0 1.2 1.4 Foreign government 0.1 1.0 1.3 0.3 Graduate study 15.1 17.7 2.9 14.9 Higher education 3.0 8.9 45.3 5.3 International organization 2.2 6.5 5.9 2.7 Private sector (for profit) 29.3 21.6 12.2 27.9 Nonprofit 4.4 6.7 3.4 4.6 Unemployed 4.5 3.6 3.8 4.4 Unknown 33.4 22.0 19.2 31.8 SOURCE: Spreadsheet based on data downloaded from EELIAS and provided in response to separate requests from Heydemann (2004) and Kramer (2003) to ED. Available: http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2004_03_17.htm [accessed June 2006]. â¢ Between about 4 and 7 percent find employment with the federal government, with the highest percentage among graduates with masterâs degrees. The numbers who go on to the U.S. military are negligible, with the exception of those receiving masterâs degrees in Slavic studies. Heydemann (2004) and Kramer (2003) both obtained placement data from ED on 43,615 NRC graduates (all levels) in 2000. The job place- ments for all NRC graduatesâthose who receive bachelorâs, masterâs, and Ph.D. degreesâfrom the data provided by ED, are shown in Table 5-2. Heydemann and Kramer highlight different points about the data and come to different conclusions. Heydemann (2004) points out that âmore gradu- ates of Middle East Centers go into some form of government service than those who study any other world region except East Asiaâ (the data include a world area code for individual university reports) and that âmore than a third of students who graduate from Middle East centers go into the pri- vate sector.â He concludes that the criticisms directed at Middle East cen- ters in particular are misguided and that the idea that âMiddle East centers âThe committee notes that âgraduateâ in this context means a student who took 15 credit hours or more of center courses. The studentâs degree is very often from another department in the university.
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 119 TABLE 5-3â FY 2003 NRC Masterâs and Ph.D. Graduates Number of Percentage Graduates by Sector Field Masterâs Ph.D. Masterâs Ph.D. Elementary or secondary education 390 31 4.11 2.01 Federal government 273 40 2.88 2.59 Foreign government 38 22 0.40 1.43 Graduate study 806 36 8.49 2.33 Higher education 607 715 6.39 46.37 International organization (in U.S.) 124 30 1.31 1.95 International organization (outside U.S.) 80 44 0.84 2.85 Private sector (for profit) 1,366 181 14.39 11.74 Private sector (nonprofit) 588 61 6.19 3.96 State or local government 50 35 0.53 2.27 U.S. military 1,453 8 15.30 0.52 Unemployed or out of job market 219 53 2.31 3.44 Unknown 3,501 286 36.87 18.55 Total 9,495 1,542 SOURCE: Data provided by U.S. Department of Education [EELIAS]. are not training students for careers in business and government is false.â Kramer (2003) focuses on the percentage of all graduates entering federal government or military service and concludes that there is an âastonishingly low rate of job placement in the federal government and the U.S. military for grads whoâve taken foreign languages in Title VI centers.â In his view, placements should be closer to at least 10 percent, the percentage he reports that Title VI contributes to the university area studies programs. These dif- ferent conclusions drawn from the same data highlight the difficulties in interpreting these sorts of placement figures without a comparison group or a definition and rationale by ED of what would constitute success. As with the analysis conducted by Brecht et al., placement information was unknown for almost one-third (31.8 percent) of the graduates. Of those for whom data were available, the majority of Ph.D. graduates found jobs in higher education (45.3); significant numbers of bachelorâs and masterâs students either entered graduate study (15.1 and 17.7 percent, respectively) or found employment in the private sector (29.3 and 21.6 percent, respec- tively); and relatively few obtained federal government positions, with the largest percentage among graduates with masterâs degrees (4.4 percent). The committee conducted its own analysis of FY 2003 job placement data in EELIAS, since that was the most complete year available in the â While language courses can be included as part of the 15 credit hours required to be con- sidered an NRC graduate, courses are not exclusively language courses.
120 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES database (see Table 5-3). Data for undergraduates were excluded given the widespread sentiment that they are unreliable. This analysis identified the same overall trends as earlier analyses. ED, through its Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, recently contracted with InfoUse to conduct a survey of fellowship recipients of four ED graduate fellowship programs between 1997 and 1999, including FLAS Fellowships and Doc- toral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) recipients. According to the survey data collected by InfoUse, about one-quarter of DDRA recipients worked within a year of completing the fellowship, while another one-half worked within 2-3 years of their fellowship. For FLAS recipients, about 40 percent worked within a year of completing the fellowship, while another 29 percent did so within 2-3 years. Among those who reported that they had at least one job related to the field they had studied with FLAS support, three-quarters had worked in education, one-fifth in a private-sector job, and one-fifth in foreign or international jobs. About 10 percent worked for the military or other government positions. Fellows in doctoral programs were far more likely than masterâs fellows to have worked in education (87 versus 53 percent) and masterâs fellows were more likely than doctoral fellows to work for the military or in an- other government position, a private-sector position, or a foreign or inter- national position. For DDRA recipients who reported they had held at least one job related to the field they studied with DDRA support, 88 percent worked in education and 11 percent in foreign or international jobs. About 7 percent worked for the military or other government positions. These results reinforce the general trends identified using EELIAS data for NRC graduates, although the number reporting government or military positions is higher than in the NRC data. This may be due to the longer time period covered. It also highlights a limitation of the reporting require- ment for placement data on FLAS recipients. Although the EELIAS place- ment data are reported when FLAS recipients complete their fellowship, most are not yet employedâonly 40 percent reported working within a year. The performance measure related to placement based on these data is in fact based on an extremely small number of recipients. Tracking Problems The process of collecting data on student placements upon gradua- tion is difficult and expensive. During our site visits, the committee heard that although NRCs try to track where students go after they leave the university, it can be difficult. Both ED and university staffs with whom the committee met reported that it is most difficult to track bachelorâs de- gree graduates. They may feel less of an allegiance to their undergraduate institution, and their location may be more fluid between graduation and
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 121 employment. Similarly, FLAS recipients, who often receive fellowships in the early years of their graduate study, are often still in school several years after the fellowship ends, yet placement data are collected when the fellow- ship is completed. Some NRCs offer area studies degrees. NRCs reported that these students, who have a direct relationship with the NRC, are often easier to track. Other âgraduates,â those who take 15 or more credit hours associated with the NRC but whose degree is in another department, are more difficult to track. For many students, there may be a significant time lag between graduation and finding employment. Another challenge is that the employment sector alone may not capture the extent to which language, area, or international skills are used on the job. The international content of a given position or career may also evolve over time. NRC staff visited by the committee uniformly expressed concern about the burden of the extensive data collected, particularly given the decreasing grant resources provided, and emphasized the significant staff resources required. In some cases, NRCs are able to use university alumni offices to get information on placements, but such information is often not known for a large number of graduates. In other cases, NRCs conduct their own surveys to determine placement outcomes. Some NRCs reported that their government service numbers are undercounted because students who obtain sensitive government positions are reluctant to report their status. Some NRCs also conduct follow-up activities to track their gradu- ates over time. One NRC, which follows all its graduates over time (see Box 5-1), believed that its follow-up activities would probably be cur- tailed as the alumni officeâs efforts are adapted to better track the centerâs graduates. Addressing Unmet Needs in Government As discussed in Chapter 2, according to presentations to the committee by representatives of different government agencies and government confer- ence reports (U.S. Department of Defense, 2005; U.S. General Accounting Office, 2002; U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2006) the federal government is faced with significant and immediate unmet language needs, especially for people with skills in critical languages. Although the commit- tee views the Title VI/FH mandate as legitimately calling for it to address a larger set of needs than just those of the federal government, in this section we review issues related to meeting demand at the federal level, because of the attention it has received. Although the current data available from ED suggest that few NRC graduates obtain government positions, these data have numerous limita- tions, as discussed above, and may not accurately reflect the number of graduates whose jobs include an international component. Merkx (2006)
122 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES BOX 5-1 Tracking Russia and East Europe Specialists at Indiana University The Russian and East European Institute (REEI) at Indiana University reports a long history of producing experts for government service. In its most recent application for federal funding, REEI provides a list of 111 graduates who have entered federal jobs over the past 15 years, with the largest groups going into the Army and the State Department. The application also identifies REEI-affiliated graduates who have entered high-level government positions, including former Central Intelligence Agency director Robert Gates; former U.S. ambassador to Russia James Collins; and Victor Jackovich, who was formerly U.S. ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, U.S. ambassador to Slovenia, and senior political advisor to the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The institute director acknowledged the difficulty of tracking REEI graduates to obtain information on student placements required by ED. During the 1990s, the center explored the university alumni association data records, but the database included only information on studentsâ major field of study, and it was not possible for the alumni association to complete the necessary coding to identify all students about whom the institute was required to report. Instead, REEI created its own database of all university graduates who enrolled in Russia and East European courses from 1958 to the present, with contact and employment information on 2,500 students. In the last year, the alumni association has made software up- grades that will allow more flexibility in tracking. The institute sends an e-mail each summer to all those listed, asking about changes in address, new jobs, and any accomplishments to be noted in the news- letter. It explains that the information is needed both to report to ED on graduatesâ success and also to provide networking opportunities for current students moving into the job market. The response rates vary, depending on what the graduates are doing. Those in academia usually respond promptly, and retirees respond oc- casionally. However, graduates working in government and public service are often too busy to reply. As one way of maintaining contact with this group, the institute hosts an annual reception or dinner in the Washington, DC, area for all university alumni who are interested in Russian and East European studies. More than 100 university graduates attended the November 2006 event. NOTE: Information contained in this box came from a committee site visit (2006) and review of the universityâs NRC application (provided by the U.S. Department of Education). suggests that a better way of assessing whether NRCs are producing gradu- ates to meet government needs would be to conduct a survey of current language or area experts already in government, a tack that would show a different result. He and others point to anecdotal evidence that many ex- perts in government attend or have attended NRC institutions (Interagency Language Roundtable, 2006b; Heydemann, 2004; Merkx, 2006). Staff at
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 123 universities visited also cited numerous cases of graduates who now work for the federal government. Government downsizing, with traditional government jobs increasingly being done by contractors, may also mean that the available statistics do not fully capture all NRC graduates who help to address federal needs. Ac- cording to the Congressional Budget Office, from 1985 to 2000, the size of the federal workforce (excluding the U.S. Postal Service) decreased by 19 percent, largely but not solely due to cuts in military personnel (U.S. Con- gressional Budget Office, 2001). This has been offset by increased reliance by the federal government on contractorsâprivate companies, nonprofits, consultants, temporary employees, etc., that some analysts call a âshadow governmentâ (Light, 1999). An example from the international context is the U.S. Freedom Support Act, which funded projects to help the transition to democracy and market-oriented economies in the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. Much of this funding went to universities, in particular Harvard University, and to a wide variety of nonprofit and for-profit organizations and consultants. Presumably, many Slavic studies graduates went to work at these organizations, which helped carry out U.S. foreign policy toward former communist nations. These graduates would be reported as being placed in higher education or private organizations, yet they were respond- ing to a government need. Other considerations, such as a lack of awareness of government needs, recruitment issues, problematic security clearance processes, and the diffi- culty of matching skills with job openings are also possible reasons that the percentages of students pursing careers in the government and military are not higher. Noteworthy are the challenges that graduates of the National Security Education Program (NSEP) in the Department of Defense (DoD) often face in obtaining a federal government position to fulfill their service requirement. In short, there are many barriers to placement in a government positionâthese are barriers that Title VI/FH cannot be expected to solve. Inadequate Communication of Government Needs to the Field Although reports of unmet needs in government have surfaced for years, there have been relatively limited efforts to specify the skills or quantify particular needs and then communicate them to universities, which might help build the necessary skills. According to Ruther (2003), there is ânot much reliable information about the global competences of the governmentâs current workforce or its strategic needs for globally com- petent talentâ (p. 1). A recent Government Accountability Office report on progress made by the State Department in meeting its language needs calls on it to produce a prioritized assessment of language skills and then act to meet these needs, particularly in countries of strategic importance
124 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2006). The Partnership for Public Service (2006) points to a similar issue and, while recognizing efforts to im- prove recruitment and retention, calls for a âgovernment-wide assessment of needed language skills.â Recruitment Issues The federal government has in general faced recruiting problems, and there is no reason to think that recruiting students who have participated in Title VI/FH programs is easier. Indeed, one of the most significant problems has been the clearance process and the difficulty of students who have stud- ied critical languages in countries of concern to then get timely clearances or get cleared at all, given the challenges involved in conducting background checks. A 2006 study conducted by the Partnership for Public Service on federal efforts to recruit students on college campuses highlighted the fol- lowing problems: â¢ Overall, the federal workforce is middle-aged or older. Only 3 percent of the current federal workforce is under 25. â¢ Downsizing of the federal workforce and budget cuts have reduced the effectiveness of recruiting efforts, particularly at universities. In 1996 recruiting and hiring was decentralized, from the Office of Personnel Man- agement to individual agencies, each of which adopted varying strategies for recruitment. â¢ Hiring âfrom withinâ is preferable to hiring graduate students. Many federal agencies do not even bother looking for ideal candidates at universities for many positions. In 2003, only 43 percent of mid-level (GS12 to GS15) federal job openings were open to the public, and only 15 percent were filled by people outside the government. The Federal Bureau of In- vestigation (FBI) was singled out by the 9/11 Commission for this practice: âThe FBIâs tradition of hiring analysts from within instead of recruiting individuals with relevant education background and experienceâ was cited as a factor in the failure to thwart the 9/11 terrorist attacks. â¢ It is difficult for the federal government to compete with the pri- vate sector. Business and other sectors of the economy are competing in the same applicant pool, and competition is fierce for people with ad- vanced skills. College juniors and seniors are most interested in working ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ at large companies (49 percent), small companies (45 percent), the federal government (42 percent), and the military (10 percent).ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ï¿½ However, 53 per- cent of students indicated that, despite a certain level of interest, they would not want to work for the federal government because they felt it was too bureaucratic.
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 125 The Partnership for Public Service study also surveyed another group of students with special skills that are in demand by the federal government: engineering students. Their situation may be somewhat analogous to people with language skills entering (or not entering) the federal workforce, and it is a reminder that the federal government has problems recruiting in a number of fields. First, the needs are great. The federal government employs 91,000 engineers, many of whom will soon retire. DoD alone seeks to hire 6,000 engineers annually. As with people with language skills, the pool of students available to the federal government is small: 57 percent of engi- neering Ph.D.s go to foreign students studying in the United States, and the federal government cannot hire them for many positions because they are not U.S. citizens. In addition, the survey found that engineering students had a more negative view of federal employment than students overall, and they were much more interested in more remunerative opportunities in the private sector (Partnership for Public Service, 2006). In the case of graduate students in languages and area studies, the fed- eral governmentâs main competitor for talent is not the corporate world (as with engineering students), but academia. Matching Skills with Openings An additional barrier is matching skills to the specific needs of any given agency. As discussed in Chapter 2, the State Department and the FBI both have unmet needs for people with critical language capabilities, but language ability is not a formal criteria for hiring people at these agencies. The State Department, for example, hires not on the basis of foreign lan- guage competency, but rather on the basis of a wide range of skills that are required of diplomats, to do a range of jobs and be competitive to progress to senior levels. However, bonus points are given for demonstrated speak- ing skills once a candidate passes written and oral examinations. The same is true of the FBI. A person with excellent language skills may still find it difficult to get a job with a federal agency because of the multiple criteria to be met in order to gain employment. Similarly, the needs of government agencies are quite variable. The National Security Agency may need people with good listening skills, the FBI may need people with good translating skills, and the State Department may need people with listening, speaking, and reading skills. Experience in the National Security Education Program Even DoDâs National Security Education Program (see Chapter 3), which has a government service requirement as a condition of participation in the program, has faced challenges placing its graduates in government
126 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES jobs (NSEP report to Congress, n.d.). These students are highly motivated to get jobs in federal national security-related bureaucracies, and as of 2006, the program had placed over 500 graduates into federal positions. However, in any given year, there are about 350 students still seeking fed- eral employment. Challenges in the federal hiring process include lack of responsiveness of federal agencies and lengthy security clearance processes in some federal agencies. Consistent with the goals of the legislation, a large percentage of place- ments are with the DoD, the State Department, and intelligence agencies, although some graduates went on to work at the Departments of Agricul- ture, Commerce, Energy, or Treasury as well as other organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Peace Corps. The NSEP Report to Congress (n.d.) states that federal hiring practices and security clearance processes consti- tute something of a barrier, despite legislative and regulatory adjustments that were made to specifically accommodate NSEP fellows. Both the NSEP Report to Congress and remarks to the committee by a senior DoD official indicate that a top priority for NSEP is to get more federal agencies to hire fellows. SERVING AS A NATIONAL RESOURCE Title VI/FH programs assist in providing needed services and resources to the nation, in ways other than directly providing federal government employees. The programs teach a large number of less commonly taught languages (LCTLs), they reach a large number of students, they maintain the capacity to teach less commonly taught languages and other languages that may be crucial in the future, and they produce resources that can be drawn on by the entire nation. Some evaluation studies provide data on how Title VI/FH programs help to meet the need for language and area experts, by emphasizing the numbers of people with language and area skills produced by the funded institutions. A study by a group of Title VI- funded NRCs (e-LCTL, 2005) concludes that Title VI/FH institutions help respond to the need for foreign language instruction based on descriptive information on LCTL enrollments: â¢ During the 2001-2002 academic year, the 55 NRC/FLAS institu- tions taught 128 less commonly taught languages, with the capacity to teach 98 more if needed. â¢ More than 30,000 students per semester received instruction in less commonly taught languages at these institutions, accounting for 80 percent of all instruction in these languages nationwide, and 60 percent of enroll- ment in critical languages as defined by NSEP.
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 127 â¢ In 2002-2003, FLAS Fellowships were awarded to graduate stu- dents in 107 less commonly taught languages. In 2004, the e-LCTL study found that Title VI institutions could teach 226 less commonly taught languages, compared with the 75 taught at the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute combined. The Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute train to high levels, but they lack capacity to teach additional less commonly taught lan- guages, and the training is often for a specific professional purpose (Brecht and Rivers, 2001). In comments to the committee, Wiley (2006) stated that 80 percent of graduate students in languages that the national security com- munity deems critical are at Title VI centers. While these data do not address the issue of what levels of language proficiency are achieved by students in these programs, it is clear that Title VI institutions support training in a significant number of less commonly taught languages, and they have an ongoing capacity (in contrast to the âon demandâ capacity of the Defense Language Institute and the Foreign Service Institute) to teach more languages than institutions designed specifi- cally to train government personnel. Public comments from grantee organizations stress that the programs also provide indirect services to the federal government, such as creation of a pool of expertise for training needs, production of language materials, and consultation. The committee heard similar sentiments expressed during several site visits, with examples provided, such as government personnel obtaining degrees and NRC staff providing consultation services. Examples cited during public comment include â¢ Experts in academia often brief military, diplomatic, and intel- ligence agencies; this was particularly true regarding the conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq (Brustein, 2006). â¢ The U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer Program sends its officers to Title VI centers for training in language and area studies. For example, at the Latin American Institute at the University of New Mexico, 44 active- duty Army officers and four active-duty Air Force officers recently received masterâs degrees in Latin American studies (Merkx, 2006). â¢ The U.S. Air Force relies on Title VI centers for course materials, most recently about Turkmen (Brustein, 2006). â¢ Title VI centers have developed language training materials for Vietnamese, Tagalog, Indonesia, Mandarin, and Korean for the National Security Agency and DoD (Brustein, 2006). â¢ The State Department recently asked American Overseas Research Centers to help with additional training in critical languages (Brustein, 2006).
128 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES â¢ Federal agencies have used materials developed through Interna- tional Research and Studies (IRS) grants to meet current language training needs in Pashto and Cebuano (Wiley, 2006). In addition, the large numbers of Ph.D.s produced by these institu- tions fan out and teach at universities across the country, at both Title VI and non-Title VI institutions. As would be expected, the largest number of NRC Ph.D. graduates move on to positions in higher education. This helps to maintain capacity in language and area education across the U.S. postsecondary education system. LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY The Title VI/FH mandate includes area studies, international studies, and language study. The vast majority of the Title VI/FH programs support the study of language by increasing or enhancing language course offerings, developing language materials, supporting study aboard, or providing fi- nancial aid for students to study languages. The committee heard remarks from academic leaders who stressed that area and international knowl- edge is as important as language in order to be able to interpret events in various regions of the world. The committee concurs that an integrated approach that enhances both language acquisition and the attainment of international and area knowledge is desirable. Several programs, including NRCs, Language Resource Centers (LRCs), and IRS, provide indirect sup- port to increase studentsâ language proficiency by maintaining the capacity and infrastructure to teach languages, particularly less commonly taught languages. The FLAS Program is unique in its focus on language study, although such study is often undertaken to support research in another discipline rather than as an end in itself. Despite its focus on language study, few data are available on the language achievement of FLAS recipients. ED has recognized the need to assess language proficiency more systematically than the current self-rating process (see below), and a number of alternative as- sessment approaches have emerged. Concern about the approach may have been heightened by recent criticisms that the program does not produce graduates with adequate language proficiency. Critics of Title VI/FH programs charge that a major shortcoming of them is that they do not educate enough people to high levels of language proficiency. This was also cited as a shortcoming by representatives of the federal governmentâs Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) in presenta- tions made to the committee, although the ILR also pointed to the lack of adequate assessment of language proficiency. One critic is Kenneth Whitehead, a former administrator of the Title VI/FH programs during
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 129 the 1980s, who credited the problem of low language proficiency to a drift in the mission of the programs. When Title VI was created as part of the National Defense Education Act, one of its main purposes was to address shortfalls in language expertise for national security purposes. When the program was rolled into the Higher Education Act, he asserts, the emphasis on language proficiency was lost, and more funding went into projects with an area studies rather than a language emphasis. Brecht and Rivers (2000) also make the case that the reason language proficiency is not as high as it should be among graduates of Title VI/FH- funded programs is because too much funding has shifted toward area studies, rather than languages. In their updated study, Brecht et al. (2007) argue for a periodic review and rebalancing of resources directed toward languages versus area studies. Table 5-4, drawn from the updated study, shows that Title VI institutions produce a much higher number of disserta- tions in Slavic and Middle Eastern studies as opposed to Slavic and Middle Eastern languages. However, the table also shows a similar imbalance between area studies and language dissertations at non-Title VI institutions. Similarly, a survey of the membership of the Middle East Studies Association (Betteridge, 2003) shows a decline in the numbers of students studying Middle Eastern languages, but an increase in those studying Middle Eastern politics and economics. Presumably most, if not all, of those pursuing these advanced degrees have acquired some language competency, but the focus of their professional interest is not foreign languages or linguistics. The committee can suggest a number of possible reasons, other than a shift in federal funding, for the preponderance of dissertations being com- pleted in area studies rather than languages. In general, a language degree may not be as marketable as that in another discipline. Some academics have observed that there is less prestige in teaching languages at universities than other subjects. A person with a Ph.D. in a language might be forced into teaching many sections of introductory Arabic, for example, but might TABLE 5-4â Dissertations in Slavic and Middle Eastern Studies, Title VI and Non-Title VI Institutions, 1997-2004 Number and % of Number and % of Dissertations Completed Dissertations Completed at Dissertation area at Title VI Institutions Non-Title VI Institutions Slavic area studies 578 (50) 580 (50) Slavic language 81 (57) 60 (43) Middle East area studies 462 (44) 565 (56) Middle East language 25 (31) 55 (69) SOURCE: Adapted from Brecht et al. (2007).
130 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES TABLE 5-5â Total Graduate and Undergraduate Enrollments in the Most Popular Language Courses at Title VI-funded Institutions, by Region, 2001-2002 Specialized Language Elementary Intermediate Advanced Advanceda Swahili 483 192 59 16 Uzbek 32 16 0 0 Japanese 5,602 2,973 1,350 977 Russian 1,604 898 724 778 Arabic 1,895 770 279 326 Hindi-Urdu 538 167 16 128 Tagalog 597 242 45 38 Chinese 4,714 2,174 1,350 1,151 Korean 1,259 635 563 302 Spanish 49,054 37,017 6,989 11,800 French 7,149 6,218 1,580 2,546 aThese are advanced courses for a specific purpose or for a specific aspect of a language or culture; examples are commercial or medical Chinese or Chinese poetry. SOURCE: Adapted from data on enrollments by world region at http://elctl.msu.edu/ summaries [accessed April 2007]. have more interest in teaching some aspect of Arabic literature or culture. Given these circumstances, the imbalance is not surprising. At the same time, NRCs seem to have significant enrollments in lan- guage study, particularly less commonly taught languages, and offer gradu- ated courses from elementary to advanced language study. Although course level cannot be equated to any standard measure of language proficiency, advanced language courses offered by NRCs, as reported by the e-LCTL initiative, have had significant enrollments (see Table 5-5). During site vis- its, NRCs regularly reported increased enrollments in less commonly taught languages and using funds to seed new, advanced-level language courses. (See Box 5-2 for examples of Title VI/FH funds being used to expand in- struction in Arabic language and culture.) Heritage Language Speakers Heritage language speakers represent a valuable national resource for developing and strengthening proficiency in less commonly taught lan- guages, including languages currently defined as critical languages. A re- cent national gathering of experts from government agencies, academia, industry, and the language community recommended (National Language Conference, 2005, p. 9):
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 131 BOX 5-2 Expanding Arabic Instruction at Select Title VI Universities During site visits, the committee found a number of examples of Title VI/FH funds being used to expand the teaching and learning of Arabic language and culture. Some highlights: â¢ t New York University (NYU), Title VI funding has supported a growing A program of Arabic instruction. Between academic years 1995-1996 and 2005- 2006, average annual enrollment in all levels of Arabic nearly tripled, increas- ing from 112 to 302 as more students became interested in Arabic. Enrollment in elementary Arabic I quadrupled, growing from 23 in 2000-2001 to 93 in fall 2006, while enrollment in advanced Arabic I surged from 2 to 26, an increase of over 8 times. â¢ n 1990, NYU had just one full-time Arabic instructor. By the end of 2006, NYU I had four full-time language instructors and one part-time language instruc- tor. Because NYU had already made a commitment to expanding its Arabic language program, it was well positioned to respond to increased student enrollments after 9/11 by leveraging Title VI funds to create a new full-time Arabic faculty position in 2002-2003. By the end of 2006, NYU had four full- time Arabic language instructors and one part-time Arabic instructor. In the past decade, NYU has hired 12 tenure/tenure-track faculty positions in Middle Eastern studies. â¢ he Center for Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Los Ange- T les, also used Title VI funding to respond to growing demand for Arabic. Funds were used to hire additional lecturers and teaching assistants, to develop new courses in Iraqi Arabic and media Arabic, to provide workshops for language instructors, and to purchase film and multimedia materials to support language learning. â¢ t San Diego State University, LRC grants to the Language Acquisition Re- A source Center since 1990 have focused on âdistinguished-levelâ (advanced professional proficiency or ILR level 4) language learning. Building on this expertise and with support from the university, the LRC grant, and an NSEP institutional grant, the university created the Center for the Advancement of Distinguished Language Proficiency (ADLP) in 2002, which has been institu- tionalized as a program offered by the Language Acquisition Resource Center. That program focuses on moving students from ILR level 3 to level 4 in two strategically critical languagesâPersian-Farsi and Arabicâwhile simultane- ously training a cadre of teachers to teach at this level. The center offered professional Arabic summer intensive courses for federal employees in 2004 and 2005. Currently, it is developing an intensive course in Iraqi Arabic for the military. Recently, the LRC received a special appropriation from Congress to develop curricula and courses in critical languages, with a focus on language and culture for military and civilian personnel needing in-depth intensive for- matted courses. Federal funding to the university also helps to train Reserve Officersâ Training Corps students in Arabic. To meet growing demand from these students, the university offered extra sections of Arabic in fall 2006. NOTE: Information contained in this box came from a 2006 committee site visit.
132 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES Government agencies, academic institutions, and private enterprises should develop plans, reinvigorate existing programs, and provide incentives to build upon the foreign language skills and cultural understanding of Amer- icaâs heritage communities. Such incentive programs should increase our national capability in foreign languagesâespecially in the less commonly taught languages. Recognizing this potential, federal intelligence agencies and the military have increased their recruitment of heritage speakers (Chu, 2006), although investigators have sometimes had problems in conducting the required background checks in countries in which first-generation speakers learned the language (Kuenzi, 2004). ED and DoD have undertaken targeted efforts involving heritage communities. For example, the ED Foreign Language Assistance Program and the DoD National Flagship Language Program have provided funding to the Dearborn Public Schools and Michigan State University (also an LRC), to collaborate with one another and the local Arabic heritage community to expand and strengthen Arabic instruction in elementary and middle schools. The partners will develop curriculum and aligned assessments and establish a professional development and Arabic teacher certification program that meets Michigan Department of Education requirements. The program will also provide scholarships for 40 Dearborn students with advanced Arabic skills for further study at the university level (Michigan State University, 2007). In addition, ED recently awarded LRC funding to the UCLA Center for World Languages and the University of California Consortium for Language Learning and Teaching to establish a new National Heritage Language Center. The centerâs overall mission is to develop the new field of heritage language education. The proportion of individuals who speak a language other than English at homeâ17.8 percent nationallyâis higher in California (39.4 percent) and still higher in Los Angeles Center (54.4) (Kagan, 2006), well positioning the center for this task. The new center will build on previous research on the different learning needs of heritage language and foreign language learners (Kagan and Dillon, 2001; ValdÃ©s, 2000). Research suggests that heritage speakers attain high proficiency best if they are taught in separate classes that meet their specific needs. The center has launched a variety of research, development, and dis- semination projects. These include gathering baseline data on demographics and patterns of intergenerational language transmission in selected heri- tage language communities, building a framework for developing heritage language materials, and researching the grammar of heritage language speakers. Another focus of the center is teacher education to reduce the shortage of heritage language instructors. As discussed in Chapter 4, some NRCs and LRCs have also undertaken targeted outreach efforts to preserve and develop the proficiency of heritage language speakers. However, while
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 133 utilizing heritage speakers has clear potential to help address shortages in foreign language and area experts, and various Title VI-funded efforts to support development of their expertise is underway, the available evidence did not enable conclusive resolution of this complex area. Further explora- tion of effective ways to develop and utilize heritage language competences is warranted. Study Abroad and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships Davidson and Lehmann (2005) found that oral language proficiency scores of U.S. alumni of the overseas Russian language programs funded by the Group Projects Abroad Program were higher after the experience. The majority of alumni identified the experience as among the top three âmost significant learning experiencesâ of their lives. The program had its greatest impact in increased language proficiency, followed by increases in cultural knowledge and interest. Linton and VandeBerg (2006) similarly found that study abroad students had significantly greater language gains and greater improvement in intercultural sensitivity than control group students. They also found an association between length of time abroad and greater im- provement in language proficiency. Other than the DDRA Program that funds doctoral research abroad, FLAS Fellowships are the main vehicle through which Title VI/FH programs fund foreign language and area study by individual graduate students. The statute currently restricts eligibility to graduate students. Grants have been evenly distributed among commonly and less commonly taught languages and, as discussed earlier in the chapter, are distributed among students from a range of disciplines. In 2003, the number of fellowships jumped from 196 to 420, with the increase focusing on less commonly taught languages. Although the FLAS Fellowships are not specifically designed to subsi- dize study abroad, a minority of students do go abroad. ED policies related to FLAS fellowships make it difficult for grantees to use their award for overseas study. The ED requires prior approval of individual requests to use funds for overseas travel, a requirement that is viewed by NRC faculty and staff, as well as by students, as a barrier to achieving higher levels of lan- guage proficiency. Federal government regulations require travel on U.S. air carriers, which is frequently more costly than non-U.S. carriers and presents a particular concern, since travel funds are not included in the stipend for academic year fellowships. In addition, from the committeeâs conversations with NRC staffs, there is a clear lack of understanding about ED policies. One NRC thought that overseas travel for academic year fellowships was prohibited. ED staff acknowledged that a series of myths about the program has evolved, which they have worked to dispel. Despite the benefits of study abroad, between 2003 and 2005, almost
134 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES three-quarters (73 percent) of FLAS recipients studied in the United States only, 23 percent spent a summer overseas, and only 3 percent spent a year overseas. Of those who studied overseas in 2005, the top 10 host countries, in descending order, were Brazil, India, China, Mexico, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Poland, Japan, and Ecuador. Many of these countries are allies or are of strategic concern to the United States, and several of the languages spoken in them are currently considered critical: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Turkish. It is unclear if requests for study in these countries are more readily approved by ED. However, since Latin America is the most common destination, study there could also be due to the relative proximity (and low travel cost) and safety of the host country, the ability of the home university to subsidize travel, or both. In the case of Brazil, five NRCs (of 40 Latin America NRCs included in the analysis) account for the vast majority of FLAS recipients studying there. These five centers sent an average of 25 FLAS fellows, com- pared with the average of 5 students for the other 35 centers. Information is not available related to why these five centers have been so much more successful than others. Assessing Language Proficiency of FLAS Recipients The only assessment of FLAS recipientsâ language proficiency that ED requires is a self-rating. Recipients are required to rate their speaking, reading, and writing proficiency based on six language levels in each of these three areas, ranging from no ability to that of a native speaker. The language levels are intended to approximate an approach to proficiency assessment that has been used by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), but without the necessary detail. There is no available evidence of the reliability or validity of these self-ratings, with interpretation of the meaning of language levels left to individual students. FLAS recipients report both their pre- and post-FLAS ratings at the same time (upon completion of their fellowship), which raises concerns about the reliability and validity of the ratings. The ED uses the average change across the three areas (speaking, reading, and reading) as a performance measure for the FLAS Program and is planning to use it for the DDRA, Faculty Research Abroad (FRA), and GPA programs. In 2005, ED added an item to the EELIAS database asking if the fellow was tested using a standardized instrument and, if so, the name of the in- strument and the pre and post scores. This requirement happened about the same time that ED started encouraging proficiency assessment through the priorities applied in its competitions (see Appendix C), sending the message to grantees that proficiency measurement is a priority. On the basis of the data submitted to ED as of March 2006, only 4 percent of students (157 of
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 135 3,835) reported having been tested using a standardized approach; an oral proficiency interview was the most commonly reported tool (28.9 percent), with a variety of other instruments making up the balance. During the committeeâs site visits, while all NRCs reported assessment as an important objective, they reported a variety of approaches to doing so. University staff indicated that, in many cases, students are assessed on the basis of a short conversation with a linguist or language teacher, or with an oral interview. These interviews may range from a brief conversa- tion with a language teacher to a structured interview along the lines of an ACTFL oral proficiency interview (OPI) but not conducted or rated by an ACTFL-certified examiner. Many NRCs and LRCs were exploring or inter- ested in alternative approaches to assessing language proficiency. This wide variety and inconsistency of methods for assessing language proficiency and the concerns about EDâs self-rating method made it difficult to assess the language proficiency component of Title VI/FH success in âreducing shortages of foreign language and area experts.â It also underscores the need to develop consistent and valid assessments of language proficiency, as discussed in Chapter 12. Given the considerable interest in assessing the language proficiency of FLAS students, one might well ask why these assessments are being done so inconsistently. The short answer to this question is that, for many lan- guages, particularly many of the less commonly taught ones, there simply are no assessments, so faculty must rely on their own resources to assess their students. For languages for which assessments are available, some do not meet professional standards for educational measurement (e.g., American Educational Research Association et al., 1999), are too costly to administer, or both. The dominant approach to language proficiency assessment in Title VI/FH programs is a face-to-face interview. There is considerable varia- tion across languages and programs in how this interview is administered and scored. Some of these are âunofficialâ interviews based generally on the ACTFL standards. Others are âofficialâ oral proficiency interviews conducted by examiners who have been certified by ACTFL, whose scale has been developed for use in academic settings. To be implemented prop- erly, the ACTFL approach requires trained testers based on the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. (See Appendix D for a brief history of the OPI, the ACTFL scale, and the ILR scale, which is used mostly in government settings.) Proponents of the ACTFL scale assert that it has provided a common framework for foreign language educators to describe student achievement, and the proficiency guidelines have become ingrained in the teaching, test- ing, programmatic, and research activities of a significant segment of the foreign language profession (Liskin-Gasparro, 2003). In a commissioned
136 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES paper prepared for the committee, Malone (2006) argues that the OPIâs greatest strengths are twofold: (1) it provides professional development of the testers who participate in the training sessions and (2) testing oral proficiency positively impacts instruction by emphasizing the importance of speaking. However, researchers and measurement specialists have raised concerns about the OPIâs validity and other technical qualities, highlighting the need for additional research and development to identify alternative approaches for measuring language proficiency levels (see Chapter 12). LRCs have been prompted by ED to develop new approaches to for- eign language assessment, in part to address the expense and limited avail- ability of the OPI. A range of them have consequently been developed or are currently under development at multiple organizations, including the Center for Applied Linguistics (2006), a collaborative partner with the National Capital Language Resource Center and the National K-12 For- eign Language Resource Center. In addition, a consortium of two LRCs (Brigham Young University and San Diego State University) and three other institutions (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, the Center for Applied Linguistics, and the Defense Language Institute) is developing the computer-assisted screening tool (CAST), with IRS funding. In the fall of 2006, the consortium had developed and was beginning to pilot test web-delivered oral proficiency test modules in Modern Standard Arabic and Spanish. It is hoped that these low-stakes tests will encourage instructors to conduct periodic assessments of studentsâ progress, punc- tuated by semi-annual or annual OPIs. The Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS), University of Oregon, is developing the stan- dards-based measurement of writing and listening proficiency for the high school grades in French, German, Spanish and Turkish (Center for Applied Second Language Studies, 2006c), the National Online Early Language Learning Assessment (2006b), and the CASLS pilot assessments (2006a). However, the extent to which these efforts are coordinated or address the other underlying concerns outlined here is unclear. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The Title VI/FH programs, particularly the NRCs and the FLAS Pro- gram, play an important role in addressing unmet needs for individuals with foreign language, area, and international knowledge. This includes produc- ing graduates for academia, government, and business as well as exposing a wide range of students to international and foreign language content.
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 137 Job Placement Title VI/FH programs aim to produce a broad range of language and area experts needed to enhance U.S. security and prosperity over the long term. Given this broad goal, job placements in government, academia, and nongovernmental organizations are all reasonable outcomes that serve broad national needs. Available reporting categories, and the use of those categories by ED, do not provide an adequate measure of success. At a minimum, ED should report on placements in a range of areas, monitor trends, and facilitate transparency of data that will enable public discourse (see Chapter 12). Although the available data are limited at best, they suggest that un- dergraduates from Title VI-funded programs are most likely to find em- ployment in the private sector. Among graduate students, those whose placements are known tend to go into academia. Thus, relatively small numbers of undergraduates and graduates appear to go on to employment with the federal government or the military. However, the reporting catego- ries used may not accurately capture job responsibilities. More importantly, for an NRC graduate or recipient of a Title VI/FH fellowship, choices about career are still best understood as a matter of individual choice and timing. These programs do not have service require- ments, so there is no obligation or expectation for students to pursue careers in government. Relatively low percentages employed in the federal government can also be partially attributable to insufficient communica- tion of government needs and career opportunities, negative perceptions of government service, difficulty matching graduate skills with specific jobs, and a cumbersome security clearance process. Even DoDâs NSEP, which has a government service requirement, faces challenges in placing its graduates in government jobs, although there has been recent progress. Government efforts have improved in the past several years, with more information pro- vided on specific language needs and government career opportunities. National Resources Title VI/FH programs assist in providing needed services and resources to the nation in other ways that cannot be measured by job placements or language proficiency. The programs teach a large number of less commonly taught languages, reach a large number of students, maintain the capacity to teach less commonly taught and other languages that may be crucial in the future, and produce resources that can be drawn on by the nation as a whole. Although there is no systematic evidence, the committee heard many anecdotal reports and examples reported during site visits of the NRCs act- ing as a resource or training ground for current government personnel.
138 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND FOREIGN LANGUAGES Language Proficiency FLAS Fellowships include the study of language as their objective, but despite evidence that overseas study is an effective way to achieve greater oral proficiency, very few FLAS recipients study overseas, and ED policies tend to discourage such study for academic year fellowships. Some grantees have figured out ways to work with these policies to enable fellows to study abroad, but this experience does not appear to be widely practiced. C onclusion:â Although overseas study has been shown to increase speaking proficiency, the Department of Educationâs policies discour- age full-year overseas study by FLAS recipients. Recommendation 5.1:â The Department of Education should modify its policy guidelines to encourage overseas study by Foreign Language and Area Studies fellows. ED should consider ways to encourage FLAS fellows to study abroad in well-designed experiences that are targeted toward gains in language and cultural competency. This might include clarifying policies, continuing to streamline the approval process, and including a travel stipend in academic year awards. The committee acknowledges, however, that such policies will not be able to address situations in which studentsâ safety might be in jeopardy and that travel to some countries where language expertise is most needed will not be practicable. Assessment of Language Ability Even though Title VI/FH programs are being encouraged to assess the language proficiency of their students in standardized ways, at pres- ent this is not being done in ways that permit ED to monitor them for accountability purposes or that enable universities to evaluate their own effectiveness. The ED has for several years relied on self-ratings to assess the proficiency of FLAS recipients, even though there is no available evidence of the reliability or validity of their approach. ED has also encouraged the development and use of other standardized instruments, partly by includ- ing as a competitive priority in its last competition âactivities designed to demonstrate the quality of the centerâs or programâs language instruction through the measurement of student proficiency in the less and least com- monly taught languages.â The oral proficiency interview is the most widely used standardized approach in the United States and, among the few who use such an approach, appears to be the most commonly used standard- ized approach with FLAS recipients. However, concerns have been raised
REDUCING SHORTAGES OF FOREIGN LANGUAGE AND AREA EXPERTS 139 about the validity and the meaningfulness of OPI ratings, and many have argued that further research and development on assessment approaches is needed. Some universities have turned to language-specific tests or other assessment approaches. In a majority of cases, however, universities restrict their assessment to the self-rating required by ED. Several of the LRCs have developed new approaches based on the OPI, and NRCs have begun to adopt these instruments for reporting the language proficiency of their FLAS recipients. C onclusion:â The language proficiency of FLAS students is not at pres- ent being adequately assessed. Recommendation 5.2:â The Department of Education should stop us- ing its current self-assessment approach and develop an alternative ap- proach to measuring foreign language proficiency with demonstrated reliability and validity. If ED determines that continued use of a self-assessment mechanism is necessary to measure performance at a national level, research to establish the validity and reliability of its current approach, or of an alternative approach, should be conducted to ensure that the approach used meets professional testing standards (American Educational Research Associa- tion et al., 1999) and produces meaningful results. Research suggests that the usefulness of self-assessment varies from one setting to another and is dependent on having a well-developed and well-implemented instrument (see Ross, 1998; Sasaki, 2003). In the long term, focused attention on language assessment is needed. The primary reasons for the current lack of adequate standardized assess- ment appear to be (1) the lack of a single standardized measure of language proficiency that could be used with all languages, and for all programs, for accountability purposes, and (2) inadequate capacity for ongoing research and development of language assessments. In Chapter 12, the committee urges the federal government to support targeted research and development on language assessment to address this shortcoming and develop new ap- proaches to foreign language assessment (Recommendation 12.3). The committee specifically recommends that the language proficiency of FLAS recipients be assessed. However, we note that NRCs may want to assess the language proficiency of all students, particularly students receiving an area studies degree, to improve their own accountability. Universities should rely on the best available methods in conducting these assessments.