Funding the Educational Success of All Learners: Aligning the Formula to Support English learners

Every child must have access to a sound, basic education according to our state Constitution. It turns out this makes sound economic sense, strengthens communities and improves civic participation. For many children of immigrants and immigrant children, an education in North Carolina’s public schools is falling short of delivering a sound basic education by failing to provide the adequate resources to support the instruction methods and environment that will allow children to succeed.

With nearly 100,000 English learners in North Carolina public schools and as the global economy demands a higher level of cultural and linguistic diversity and competency, there is economic urgency around preparing each child with the tools needed to reach their potential in the classroom and the future.

In the General Assembly’s work to review education funding formulas and resulting allotments to school districts by the state, changes to the specific formula that provides supplemental funding for English learner programs should take into account growing linguistic diversity and evidence around what works to boost educational attainment of English learners. Additionally, funding for English learners should also provide the resources and services necessary to overcome student achievement gaps. Given the demonstrated benefit to all students of exposure to well implemented and designed dual- language learner programs, a financing system that makes possible the delivery of the best educational practices, like dual-language learner programs, will benefit all students.

This BTC Brief provides an overview on why funding matters for educational attainment and particularly for English learners, a review of the funding formula and what it means for school districts—urban and rural and provides some recommendations for aligning the state’s funding formula with the goal of supporting each child’s educational success.