English Language Learner (ELL) Accountability and Resource Allocation: A Critical Analysis of ELL Educational Outcomes
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The allocation of local resources is one indicator of a communities’ educational responsibility and reflective of communities’ attitude—although challenged by overarching statewide accountability priorities. Using an epistemological frame of critical realism, this quantitative study measured the degree and type of relationship between resource allocation and ELL achievement, specifically how accountability ratings mediate the relationship between resource allocations and ELL achievement in Texas schools. The social and political contexts and generative mechanisms were explored through a historical review of Texas ELL educational policy, educational attainment, financial resources, accountability policy, and assessment requirements. Through a purposive sample of archival campus-level data reported by the state of Texas Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS), three measures of ELL student outcomes were selected for this study: Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAKS) percent Met Standard in reading, TAKS percent Met Standard in mathematics, and ELL Graduation Rates. Separate analytic models were designed for each of the ELL outcome variables to measure the direct and indirect relationships between four observed variables serving as measures of resource allocation: (a) Campus Total Operating Expenditures, (b) Campus Operating Expenditures for Bilingual Education (BE) or English as a Second Language (ESL) Instructional Programs, (c) Campus Teacher full-time equivalents (FTEs) that serve students in the BE/ESL Instructional Programs, and (d) District Operating Expenditures for BE/ESL Instructional Programs. Each of the outcome measures were analyzed using path analysis with maximum likelihood estimation of parameter estimates while bootstrapping was employed to estimate the confidence intervals around the indirect effects. The study results found small effect sizes suggesting that the accountability rating had very little practical effect on the relationship between ELL resource allocation measures and ELL outcomes measured by ELL Met Standard on TAKS Reading and Mathematics, and three of the four relationships between among ELL Graduation Rates. The relationship between Campus Operating Expenditures and ELL Graduation Rate was the only relationship mediated by the accountability rating pattern as indicated by a moderate effect size. The study was intended to fill the void of much needed future research of ELL resources in relationship to student achievement, and establish the groundwork for future studies. Future quantitative and qualitative studies may explore the quality of ELL educational programs and student achievement measured by long-term quality of life.