DES MOINES — A national report has found Iowa is lagging behind much of the U.S. in foreign language instruction for K-12 students.
The study, conducted by the American Councils for International Education and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, found slightly more than 15 percent of Iowa's K-12 students were enrolled in a foreign language course for the 2014-15 academic year. Iowa ranked 35th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., for foreign language instruction.
Larger school districts can typically offer more foreign language options, which creates a rural-urban divide, said Jason Noble, president of the Iowa World Language Association.
Schools in Des Moines offer seven language courses for high school students. Teens in rural areas often have to enroll in online courses or at community colleges if they wish to learn another language.
Teacher shortages and budget issues have forced some Iowa school districts to cut programs in recent years. The West Des Moines School District stopped its Japanese program and cut back on Spanish elementary school classes because of budget shortfalls in 2015.
It's rare for elementary schools in the state to offer language instruction, said Stefanie Wager, a consultant with the Iowa Department of Education. Middle school foreign language programs often are shorter introductory courses instead of full classes, she said.
Education advocates say they hope to add a special seal onto the high school diplomas of students who learn a foreign language in order to raise the prestige and spark interest.
The Seal of Biliteracy has been adopted by 26 states and Washington, D.C. Students can earn the seal by taking a test that demonstrates their proficiency in another language. State lawmakers considered the seal during the past legislative session but didn't enact it into law.
Stronger demand boosts Caterpillar, 2017 outlook raised
PEORIA, Ill. — Caterpillar recorded a very strong second quarter with demand beginning to the rise after the company cut costs vigorously.
The heavy equipment maker boosted its full-year forecast as ordering activity picked up, sending shares 4 percent higher before Tuesday's opening bell.
Caterpillar Inc. earned $802 million, or $1.35 per share. A year ago the Peoria, Illinois, company earned $550 million, or 93 cents per share.
Stripping out restructuring costs and a gain on the sale of an equity investment, earnings were $1.49 per share, handily surpassing Wall Street expectations of $1.26, according to a poll by FactSet.
Revenue climbed to $11.33 billion from $10.34 billion, partly helped by higher demand for construction equipment. Wall Street expected revenue of only $10.95 billion.
Credit outlook improves for WIU, other Illinois universities
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A major credit agency has raised debt ratings and affirmed others for seven Illinois universities.
S&P Global Ratings credited the state's enactment of an annual budget this month for the first time in two years.
S&P raised its debt ratings for Southern Illinois University, Governors State University, Northeastern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University. It affirmed ratings for the University of Illinois, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University.
Each university had its rating removed from "credit watch negative." The outlook for Western Illinois is "positive." The others rated "stable" outlooks.
S&P says the impact of budget passage over Gov. Bruce Rauner's vetoes is not yet clear. It says hundreds of millions of dollars the state comptroller plans to distribute by the end of the month is crucial for liquidity.
Convicted killer from northwest Iowa dies
ANAMOSA — Authorities said a man convicted of two murders in northwest Iowa has died of natural causes.
The Iowa Corrections Department said Tuesday Paeng Saengaroun died Saturday afternoon. It's unclear whether he died in a prison or a medical facility. Prison officials didn't immediately return calls from the Associated Press.
The department said he was 67.
He'd been sentenced to life following his February 1997 convictions in Buena Vista County. He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for killing his wife and father-in-law in Storm Lake.