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The Georgia Way for Divvying Up State ELL Funds

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Georgia gives funds to schools for English-language learners in differing amounts depending on the distribution of such students across grade levels. For ELLs in K-3, the state provides funding for one segment—about a 45-minute period—of English-as-a-second-language instruction per school day. For students in grades 4-8, the state pays for two segments of ESL. For high school grades, it provides money for up to five periods of ESL.

The state gave out $115 million in state funds (separate from the federal funds authorized by Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act) in the 2007-08 school year, according to Dana Tofig, the director of communications for the Georgia Department of Education. Mr. Tofig noted that federal Title III funds are distributed according to a formula grant method and that a school district must have 63 or more ELLs to be eligible for such funding. About 5 percent of the state's students are ELLs.

He explained the rationale for the distribution of the state funds in an e-mail message:

The idea...is that younger students, in kindergarten, for instance, will learn English more quickly through immersion, not pull-out [ESL] classes. So a kindergarten student will spend one segment—or period—in a pull-out class and the rest of the time in their main classroom. As students get older, into middle and high school, the thought is that they will need more pull-out instruction to learn English. That is why more segments are funded in later years.

I came across this policy tidbit last month when I visited a suburb of Atlanta to write about ELLs. I don't know of any other state that has this kind of differentiation by grade-level clusters for funding. I'd be interested in hearing about how state funds are given out in your state, and what kind of formula you think makes the most sense from an instructional point of view.

1 Comment

I don't think there is a basis for Georgia's ideas. There is nothing wrong with pull out ESOL if it fits the need of children to learn English and the other children already have a good foundation. At the same time, spending 5 periods a day of ESOL is teaching English well? Schools tend to forget that people learn language through peers the best and the opportunity to speak. Classes have limited success on their own but they can facilitate better learning.

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