School reform is front and center on the national agenda with implementation of high academic standards in almost every state and federal legislation requiring annual testing of students in Grades 3–12 in Title I and Title III programs. Standards and the new assessments that are aligned to them have become the rallying principles for the improvement of academic performance in schools (Tucker & Codding, 1998). The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001, the cornerstone of President Bush’s education agenda, provides significant federal dollars to states through a formula funding grant. States in turn provide funds to their local school systems. The monies constitute the largest increase ever in the funding of Title I programs, which are designed to educate economically disadvantaged students. Approximately 125 of the nation’s poorest urban districts will receive the increased funds. A similar increase in Title III funds will pass through states to districts with limited English proficient students. While increased funding indicates a considerable commitment to improving education for all children, will current instructional practices 8/9/05 1 accomplish that goal for significant numbers of English language learners? Or, will many children inadvertently be left behind because educators missed the mark with this population? Student Demographics Across the school districts in the U.S., the number of students from non-English speaking backgrounds has risen dramatically, representing the fastest growing segment of the student population. From the 1991–92 school year through 2001–02, the number of limited English proficient (LEP) students in public schools grew 95 % while total enrollment increased only 12
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