Education Policy

2015 IDRA Factsheet Special Program Funding

2015 IDRA Factsheet
Special Program Funding Education of English Language Learners

All students should have access to excellent and equitable education; for students learning English this means that schools must provide appropriate, high quality, research-based ELL programs at all grade levels.

See bilingual version (PDF, English-Spanish)

IDRA Stands

  • State aid for students served in bilingual education or compensatory education/accelerated instructional programs should be increased to 40 percent of regular program costs.
  • Add-on costs associated with providing effective instruction to all special population students should be reflected in equalized state funding formulae, with funding amounts based on actual costs involved.

Decades of Neglect Have Given Us Decades of Underachievement

Children who are learning English and students from low-income families are a growing percentage of students in U.S. and Texas schools and cannot be written off as too difficult to educate. In Texas, over 17 percent of students are ELLs, and 60 percent are low income.

Research is clear that such students need specialized instruction that requires investment of additional funding. Cost studies indicate that compensatory education and ELL education costs in Texas average about 40 percent over regular program costs, but Texas only provides 10 percent additional funding for ELL students and 20 percent add-on funding for low-income students.

Failure of the state to provide adequate support for these students means either that schools cannot appropriately educate them. It also means fewer of these students graduate, and for those who do, many may not be prepared for college or future work. In Texas, ELL students drop out at twice the rate of the larger student population, and they are retained at rates double that of their peers.

Texas is Underfunding Education of ELL Students by 75% & Low-Income Students by 50%

The district court in the recent Texas school funding case declared that the costs for educating economically disadvantaged and ELL students exceeds the funding provided by the state due to arbitrarily designed and insufficient weights for those students.

In fact, since the adoption of the 10 percent add-on weights for bilingual and ESL programs and the 20 percent add-on weight for state compensatory education programs in 1984, no change in those original weights has been adopted.

Personnel costs for serving ELL students include specialized bilingual teachers or resource teachers who supplement instruction provided by a mainstream teacher and professional development to strengthen the skills of teachers working with them. These require extra outlays in local schools. Bilingual and ESL programs also require access to specialized instructional materials. Due to the need to monitor program outcomes, bilingual programs also provide for focused evaluation of program implementation and program outcomes adding unique add-on costs for school systems.

The compensatory education program for low-income students pays for smaller class sizes by funding extra teachers, field trips for students, counseling support, and targeted academic support, including tutoring, after-school programs and summer programs.

Texas must ensure all students have access to the educational supports they need to succeed in school.