A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

School Reform and Student Diversity - September 1995

K. Resources Needed for Reform

The eight exemplary schools examined in this study relied on a mix of resources to support their curriculum, instruction, and school reform efforts. This section of the report reviews the resources used by exemplary schools from state, local, federal, and private sources and suggests some steps needed to "get the reforms to scale" throughout the country in schools with large numbers of LEP students.

1. Resources that Support Exemplary School Programs

This section summarizes study findings on the resources used by exemplary schools to implement high quality language arts in grades 4 through 6, and mathematics and science in grades 6 through 8.

Four types of funding are used by exemplary schools to support the programs described in this study: the general funding provided to school districts for all students, supported by state and local funds; state and federal funding in formula-driven programs such as Chapter 1; state and federal competitive awards such as federal Title VII; and resources of the external partner.

General Funding

School district expenditures are supported by general funding derived from state aid and local tax revenue. General funds are distributed according to state laws governing the use of local property tax revenue and distribution of general state aid to K-12 education. The eight exemplary schools were located in California, Texas, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Each state had its own laws governing the general support of school districts and collection of local property taxes. As a result, the amount of general funds per student available for the exemplary schools varied. The level of general education funding combined with average teacher salary had a strong influence on class size in the four states. As shown in Table K-1 on the following page, Massachusetts had a relatively higher per-pupil expenditure than the other three states, and also had the smallest average class size. Illinois spent more per pupil than Texas, yet Texas had a lower class size average. Texas also had the lowest average teacher salary of the four states in the study. California's class sizes were the highest of the four states. Its expenditure per student was lower than Massachusetts and Illinois, and its average teacher salary was the highest among the four states.

Table K-1
Comparison of States with Eight Exemplary Schools

State

Average Class Size, 1987

Average per Pupil Cost, 1989-90

Average Teacher Salary, 1990-91

California

28

$4,391

$39,598

Illinois

23

$5,118

$34,605

Massachusetts

21

$6,237

$36,090

Texas

22

$4,150

$27,658

Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 1990 and 1992.

Some states had laws governing class size for LEP students. The classes with LEP students were maintained at a relatively lower level than the average class size in that state. Supplementary state aid often supported the reduced class size. Two of the states in the study, Massachusetts and Texas, had designated a weighted pupil rating for LEP students in their main state aid system and provided additional general funding to schools serving LEP students. The funding systems for the four states are described in general terms below, along with the class size average in those states and relevant state laws governing class size for classes with LEP students.

California. In California, state revenues constituted about 67 percent of general (non-categorical) support for elementary and secondary education. Each school district had a revenue limit per student which was calculated according to state laws and regulations and was based on historical expenditure levels and state efforts to equalize educational funding among school districts. Property taxes were collected for schools and distributed according to state formula. School boards did not levy property taxes directly, but rather shared in the proceeds of property taxes collected by county authorities. The differences in revenue limits per student among different school districts were relatively small in California due to Proposition 13 and state efforts to comply with the Serrano school funding decision.1

California experienced a severe recession and shortages in state revenues in the early 1990s. As a result, state general funding for schools had not risen for several years. The funding per pupil had remained constant and any increases in general funding for school districts had occurred due to growth in enrollment.

Class sizes have historically been large in California compared to other states. Also, teachers’ salaries have been relatively high in California. School districts and teacher unions have maintained teacher salaries and allowed class sizes to remain relatively large. Compared to other states, schools in California make extensive use of aides or paraprofessionals to assist teachers with large classes. The schools in the study in California have higher class sizes than schools in other states examined in this study. State law regulated maximum class sizes for K-3 only. The limit was 33 students for kindergarten and 32 students for grades 1-3. Compared to other states, these maximum limits were very high.2

California supported LEP student programs at the rate of about $110 per LEP student through a formula-driven categorical aid program. State support for LEP student programs was primarily used to fund aides in the classroom, teacher training, assessment and evaluation services, and teacher recruitment. Districts had discretion over the allocation of these funds to specific schools. In general, state revenues for LEP student program support were not used to reduce class size in California.

The exemplary schools examined in this study utilized state and local resources to support their schoolwide vision and LEP student program. Each school had a unique approach to school organization and setting class size that reflected their philosophy. In many cases, the exemplary schools in the study departed from the California norm of large class sizes, and the use of aides to supplement the teacher's efforts.

Linda Vista Elementary School pooled its categorical aid resources from federal Chapter I, state LEP student funds, state School Improvement funds, and a state restructuring grant to support additional teachers and lower class size during the morning language arts block. Classes were developed according to the needs of students and the expertise of teachers; class size varied considerably as a result. Class sizes varied between the Spanish bilingual classes and the sheltered English classes for speakers of languages other than Spanish. For example, one grade 5-6 sheltered class for entry level LEP students with mixed primary languages had 22 students and a part-time aide assisting the teacher, while another sheltered class for more advanced students in grades 3-4 had 34 students with one teacher, one aide, and one student teacher assisting in the class. A Spanish bilingual class in grades 1-2 had 28 students and one aide assisting the teacher.

At Horace Mann Middle School, the San Francisco Project 2061 learning challenge involved a group of 100 students and five teachers for a specified learning activity. Other Horace Mann class sizes observed in fieldwork averaged 25 students. Classes of LEP students taught by primary-language fluent teachers did not use aides. Classes taught in English to LEP students typically included an aide who translated for Spanish-speaking LEP students and supported Chinese students transitioning to mainstream classes. Horace Mann supported reduced class size in academic classes with consent decree funding from the state.

At Hanshaw Middle School, LEP student core classes in science and mathematics or social studies and language arts tended to be smaller than mainstream core classes. Core classes for LEP students ranged in size from 19 to 25 students. Mainstream classes taught in English but including LEP students averaged 28 to 31 students in size. None of the classes observed at Hanshaw had an aide present, reflecting a decision made by the school to lower class size rather than to rely on aides.

Illinois. In Illinois, state support constituted 32 percent of school funding, local resources 59 percent and federal support 9 percent. Local school boards levied property taxes. State aid was provided according to a formula that took into account local property tax wealth. Chicago's school board was appointed by the mayor, and the city levied the property taxes for city expenses, including school costs. In 1992-93, the average expenditure per pupil in Illinois was $5,580 and Chicago's per pupil expenditure was $6,596.

The state of Illinois provided categorical aid funds to school districts to support bilingual education based on the number of LEP students and the type of program offered. State funds supported special "state-supported teachers" who could reduce class size or provide special services. Inter-American School had two state-supported teachers. As a result, class sizes in Inter-American’s 4th through 6th grade classes ranged from 16 to 22. In contrast, during the 1993-94 school year, the average 6th grade class size in Chicago was 26. The state compensatory aid funding was distributed to districts based on the number of Chapter 1 eligible students.

Chicago had engaged in a wide-ranging reform program that decentralized much of the authority over school decisions to local sites, governed by community boards. The community boards hired the principals and made decisions about the use of state, local and federal funds.

Massachusetts. Massachusetts school districts were part of city and town government. The city levied property taxes for school support, under the provisions of state laws. In general, support levels for schools in Massachusetts were higher than in California, Texas or Illinois. In 1992-93 the state and local per-pupil expenditure for school operations averaged $5,130. This did not include federal funds. Expenditure levels varied by school district as did the relative share of state and local funding. Districts with higher property wealth per student received less state aid than districts with low levels of property wealth per student. The state strove to equalize school spending differences based on property wealth per student. Despite state aid, however, gaps in expenditure existed between low-spending and high-spending districts.

Cambridge is a relatively property-rich district; in 1992-93 the expenditure (state and local) per student was $8,988. This expenditure supported relatively low class sizes in Cambridge schools. At Graham and Parks Alternative School, the grade 5 through 8 Creole bilingual class had 23 students and two teachers.

State law regulated class size for LEP students in elementary schools in Massachusetts. By law, classes with LEP students could not exceed 18 unless an aide was present, in which case, classes of LEP students could include 25 students. Multi-grade classes were limited by law to 15 students per teacher; multi-grade classes with an aide were limited to 20 students. State support for LEP student programs was provided through a pupil weighting system in the main state aid formula. Students in bilingual programs were weighted at 1.4 compared to students in regular programs who were weighted at 1.0. Therefore districts received 40 percent more state aid for LEP students than non-LEP students. These funds, in turn, supported lower class sizes for LEP students.

Texas. Property taxes made up 47 percent of the general support for school districts, and state revenues comprised 53 percent. School districts' per-pupil general support varied in Texas, in part due to historical expenditure levels and variations in local property tax bases. School boards levied taxes on property in Texas. Texas had a provision in its state aid program that recaptured local tax revenue over a certain threshold from districts with high property tax wealth to redistribute to poorer districts. The state guaranteed a minimum foundation level of expenditure to all districts in the state, supported with state aid.

In 1992-93, the average Texas per pupil expenditure of state, local and federal funds for school operations was $4,774. Of the three districts with exemplary schools examined in this study, Spring Branch Independent School District had the highest per student general support at $4,725 in 1992-93. Ysleta Independent School District spent $4,254 per student in 1992-93 and El Paso Independent School District spent $4,039 per student.

Class sizes for all students were regulated by state law in Texas. In grades pre-K through 5, classes could not exceed 21 students. In grades 6 through 12, classes may not exceed 26 students per teacher. The state provided extra funding to districts to support programs for LEP students. State aid was directed to districts under a formula that weighted LEP students 10 percent more than non-LEP students. Districts could use those funds to support a lower class size for LEP students.

Classes at Del Norte Heights and Hollibrook typically had 20 or 21 students, in compliance with the state law. Wiggs Middle School used state compensatory education and bilingual education funds as well as local "excess cost funding" to reduce class size for LEP students in the LAMP program. For example, beginning LAMP classes typically enrolled 16 or 17 students.

State and Federal Categorical Funding

State and federal categorical funding for schools supplements district general support for all students. Categorical funding is provided to schools in two forms: formula-driven grants and competitive grants.

Formula-Driven Grants. Formula-driven grants (e.g., Chapter I) were distributed fairly automatically to school districts. Formula grants support paraprofessionals, assessment of LEP students, recruitment and training of staff for LEP student programs, technology, expanded school day and year programs, and school nutrition programs.

Exemplary schools combined state and federal categorical funding in ways that supported school restructuring, LEP student programs, and language arts, mathematics, and science instruction. Of the exemplary sites, five were schoolwide Chapter 1 schools (Del Norte Heights, Linda Vista, Hollibrook, Inter-American, Hanshaw Middle School). They utilized Chapter 1 funding to enrich general instruction in classes rather than for pull-out programs. Hollibrook Elementary School used Chapter I funds to support a full-day kindergarten program. Wiggs Middle School used state general fund support for LEP students and state compensatory categorical funds to reduce class sizes for LEP students.

Important factors such as teacher collaboration and site-based decision-making enabled exemplary schools to make decisions about unifying discrete funding sources, and determine how to apply them strategically to further the school's vision. Exemplary schools reduced class size, extended learning time or purchased intensive support from an external partner with formula-driven categorical funds. For example, Hanshaw Middle School staff utilized categorical aid funds from state and federal sources to support training and coaching from Susan Kovalik and Associates. Hollibrook staff made the decision to fund a full-day kindergarten and to support technology through a site-based decisionmaking process.

Competitive Awards. States and the federal government made competitive grant awards to schools and districts. These were made by application, were time-limited, often involved external evaluation and often supported training, innovation in curriculum design, and additional instructional time or materials.

Exemplary schools received a wide range of competitive state and federal grants to support restructuring, LEP student programs, science and mathematics curriculum, assessment, technology and integrated services. For example, Linda Vista Elementary School received funding from diverse sources to support its technology program and restructuring efforts, including a state competitive grant to support restructuring under California Senate Bill 1274. Horace Mann also received additional funding from SB 1274 for school reform and restructuring.

Exemplary schools were often very entrepreneurial in obtaining special funding to support aspects of the program for LEP students. Exemplary schools utilized diverse funding sources to implement an integrated vision. For example, Graham and Parks School in Cambridge obtained special grant funding to support the cost of a Haitian mediation specialist to work with students and families in a culturally competent manner. Hanshaw Middle School obtained a California Healthy Start grant to support medical care, dental care and counseling services on campus in a family resource center.

State Funding for Organizations that Support Reform

States established organizations or funded intermediate units or institutions of higher education to support reform in schools and districts. Examples included the California subject matter projects, Texas Education Service Centers, University of Texas campuses that received National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, and the Illinois Resource Center. These organizations offered training resources and expertise that were used by exemplary schools to train teachers, plan curriculum, and develop innovative instructional strategies.

Resources of the External Partner

Private foundations and corporate philanthropy supported conceptual development and early implementation activities of several external partners, enabling them to develop their approach to learning or school reform. Accelerated Schools (Hollibrook) received funding from Chevron Corporation to develop its approach to assist schools in revitalizing their programs to better serve low-income students. Susan Kovalik and Associates (Hanshaw) received funding from the Packard Foundation to develop their innovative approach to teaching science, mathematics, and language arts based on findings in brain research on how students learn. Linda Vista's Apple Classroom of Tomorrow program was made possible by corporate philanthropic support from Apple Computers, the New American Schools Development Corporation (NASDC), and NSF. A number of foundations, including Carnegie Corporation, Mellon Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Robert Noyce Foundation and IBM, supported the development of the Project 2061 science benchmarks and approaches to science learning.

While partners working with exemplary schools commonly obtained private philanthropic support to develop their approaches, implementation at the schools was often supported by federal funding,3 such as NSF or OERI, paid directly to the external partner or by school funds paid from general sources, state and federal categorical funds, or discretionary funds. NSF funds figured prominently at the exemplary sites. Four of the eight schools were involved in partnerships that were supported by NSF; the funds were used to promote science learning and the use of technology.

Private funds provided critical support for research and development of innovative curriculum and instruction. Public funding sources were critical to the application of the innovative approaches in the schools. Public funding supported training for teachers, extra time for teachers to plan curriculum, coaches to assist teachers in improving instruction, and purchasing of additional materials.

2. Resources Needed To "Get Reforms To Scale"

Benefits of Partnership

External partners played an important role in exemplary schools, particularly in reforming science curriculum and instruction for LEP students at the middle school level. More schools would benefit from ongoing relationships with external partners such as universities and public and private training organizations. Funding from state and federal sources should include strategies to fund partnerships between schools and external partners. The study shows that external partners of many types can be effective with schools.

San Francisco’s Project 2061 curriculum model is a comprehensive approach to improving science education that bears review because it combined a national effort to conceptualize the goals of the project, joint funding by foundations and federal agencies, local school district experimentation to allow multiple expressions of a common vision, and sustained support at the national and district level. San Francisco's program was not originally intended to provide excellent learning opportunities for LEP students, but the program's inclusive vision and the capacity of the San Francisco Unified School District in bilingual education created the conditions for that to happen. The design, implementation, and impact of San Francisco’s Project 2061 on LEP students should be disseminated to other districts in the United States.

TERC is another model that provides important lessons about the benefits of the interaction between an external partner and a school. The quality of collaboration and long-term partnership between schools and TERC staff has been supported by NSF and OERI. The partnership is informal and collegial, but is developed within a theoretical framework. Teachers interact with other teachers implementing TERC approaches, as well as with researchers and the research community in universities and research centers.

Accelerated Schools differs from the two above in that it was conceived and implemented in a national context but without major federal government involvement. AS promotes accelerating rather than remediating student learning, as well as a process of inquiry for school examination and reform. Networks of schools participate in AS and receive training and support from a coach provided by AS.

More Linkages Needed

Linkages between school reform, LEP student programs, and exemplary language arts, mathematics, and science curricula need to be enhanced and extended. The federal government should partner with foundations in new ways to develop and disseminate innovations. Foundations provided critical seed money for the development of new approaches in education. The federal government played a major role in the dissemination of new ideas to schools. Federal funding, particularly in science education, had a major impact on the programs in the exemplary schools in this study.

States supported training of teachers and created new entities to support school reform. Both are important resources for schools which are seeking to adapt new ideas within unique contexts. In addition to new entities to support school reform, key proponents of school reform include state departments of education, intermediate units such as Multifunctional Resource Centers, service centers, or county offices of education. State-supported organizations devoted to school reform should concern themselves with LEP student issues and link up with programs that train teachers of LEP students and districts with large LEP populations. Support for reform is like a web--it is dynamic, both top down and bottom up.


1 Proposition 13 was enacted by California voters in June of 1978. It placed restrictions on property tax collections, rolled back tax levies, and limited annual increases to 2 percent. The Serrano decision of the California Supreme Court in 1977 found that the system of school funding was unconstitutional because of differences in spending between districts arising from local property wealth differences. The state was ordered to equalize school spending across districts.

2 California Legislature, February 1988.

3 During site selection screening visits, researchers saw high quality science programs for LEP students that were implemented with the support of Eisenhower funds.


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