State Funding and the Equal Educational Opportunity of Language Minority Students: The Texas Public School Finance Mechanism and the Extent to Which English Language Learners Are Equitably Served
Eason, Noelle Rogers
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This quantitative study examined state and local funding and district spending patterns for English language learning (ELL) students in Texas. The purpose of this study was to examine the vertical equity of the state public school funding system from 1997-2007 for purchasing educational resources for ELL students. Vertical equity was operationalized through a research-based framework that places ELL students at risk of academic failure. Regression analysis examined vertical equity through (a) the extent to which the quantity of ELL students within districts predicted the TPSFM funding output for ELL students in districts over 10 years and (b) the extent to which, when districts are grouped by like-sized populations of ELL students within each of the 10 years, the quantity of ELL students within districts with like-sized populations of ELL students predicted the TPSFM funding output for ELL students. The findings revealed that from 1997-2007, the ELL student funding component was not found to be a statistically significant predictor for district spending on ELL students in any given Texas district. The present study therefore concludes with a discussion of policy implications and recommendations for further study. Within the current punitive culture for student assessment results and annual yearly progress measures, these findings indicate that programs serving ELL students may be constrained to produce results in areas where they are not equitably funded to be able to do so. In the daily life of school operations, teachers and administrators may be well aware that the state's mechanism does not supply adequate funding for the education of ELL students, therefore the results of this study may serve policy makers to clearly see the elephant of inequitable funding standing in the classroom.