Analysis of State Funding for English Learners

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The Education Commission of the States (ECS), an interstate compact on U.S. education policy, has released a new analysis of how states allocate funding for English Learners (ELs). Based on the analysis, 48 states and the District of Columbia provide funding specifically for ELs.

Although allocation formulas are different in each state, the report shows that there are three popular funding models:

  • Formula Funded: Funding for ELs is included in the state’s primary funding formula.
  • Categorical Funding: States allocate funding through separate mechanisms outside of the primary funding formula.
  • Reimbursement: Districts submit expenditures to the state, and the state reimburses districts for all or a portion of their spending once costs are accrued.

According to the analysis, most states fund English language learners through the state funding formula or a categorical program. About half of states provide a flat weight — either an additional percentage or flat dollar amount—for each identified student, regardless of their level of language proficiency or the types of services offered. The second most common approach is a multiple weight system, which allocates funding based on the amount of time that students have been classified as English language learners, based on proficiency levels or based on the concentration of English language learners in a district.

Originally published in 2014, but regularly updated is ECS’ 50-State Comparison on English Language Learners.

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