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New Legislation Would Require US Department of Education to Collect Significant Data on K-12 and Higher Education Language Courses


WASHINGTON, D.C., December 21st, 2023 -- After years of little to no organized federal collection of world language statistics, the Senate is now poised to require that the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics collect data on “the availability of, and access to, foreign language coursework.” JNCL-NCLIS had endorsed the bill introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) – the Language Data Enhancement Act (S. 2543) – that formed the basis for this new bill’s world language provision. The full Senate may take up this legislation in the new year.

This major step forward in world language data collection occurred last week when the Senate HELP Committee approved the bipartisan Advancing Research in Education Act or Area Act (S. 3392), which would amend the existing Education Sciences Reform Act with this new language. Specifically, the new language (in red) would appear in the existing statute as below:

a. General duties. The Statistics Center shall collect, report, analyze, and disseminate statistical data related to education in the United States and in other nations, including—

  1. collecting, acquiring, compiling (where appropriate, on a State-by-State basis), and disseminating full and complete statistics (disaggregated by the population characteristics described in paragraph (3)) on the condition and progress of education, at the preschool, elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and adult levels in the United States, including data on— “(T) the availability of, and access to, foreign language coursework.”

If this bill were to become law, the US Department of Education would be required to collect significant data on K-12 and higher education foreign language courses, affording policymakers and the world language community a more detailed understanding of the number and type of world languages taught at all levels, the availability of courses in each language, and perhaps the number of students preparing to enter the world language teacher ranks and the number currently teaching foreign language courses. 

JNCL-NCLIS will continue to work closely with Senator Wyden’s office to ensure passage of this language in the Senate and, ultimately, in the House.


Established in 1972, the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language.

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