Exploring the influence of 21st century skills in a dual language program: a case study

Preparing diverse students of K-12 schools with 21st century skills is a key reform in education. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) developed a framework that identifies student outcomes needed for successful implementation of rigorous standards. The Dual Language (DL) program was identified as a viable option for school reform as an additive program to meet the needs of English Learners (ELs). When implemented effectively, the DL program offers key systems and practices that can be used to prepare students for the 21st century (Alanis & Rodriguez, 2008; Collier & Thomas, 2004; García & Baetens Beardsmore, 2009). The purpose of this study was to explore the systems and practices within a DL program that supports the development of 21st century skills. The DL program was studied in a southern California district at an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school. Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, and document review. The data were coded and sorted to reveal six themes. The themes pertaining to research question one were: established goals, structures for collaboration, and systems that advanced 21st century skills. Leadership, development of community, and belief were themes that were germane to research question two. The identified themes were then analyzed to provide conclusions, implications, and recommendations for future research.