Charter Schools - Paper Example

Published: 2021-08-18 13:45:42
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A charter school is a public school that is a self-governing learning institution. In 1991 the state of Minnesota was the first state to allow the establishment of charter schools followed by 40 more states by the year 2005. In 1997, the first charter school opened in New Jersey, and by 2004, there were 10,000 students enrolled in charter schools. Enrollment doubled in 2009, with a student population of 20,000, and today, there are over 50,000 students in 89 operating charter schools in NJ (Fact Sheet: Public Charter Schools in New Jersey, 2017).  A charter school is accountable to the public, which authorizes it. This means that the charter of the charter school serves as a contract between the school and the public;  if the standards of the charter are not met, or the student body does not test well, the public will withdraw its support and funds. Charter schools enjoy autonomy, which means they produce the results as they think best...with wide control over their curriculum, instruction, staffing, budget, internal organization, calendar, etc. (Barr, Sadovnik, and Viconti, n.d., p. 3). The Department of Education is the public body that authorizes charter schools in the state of New Jersey. Charter schools often have to provide their facilities and receive a per-student disbursement, which is less than the disbursement to regular public schools. For example, during the 2013-2014 school year, charter schools spent 9,986 dollars per student in comparison to the average  19,652 dollars per student in New Jersey public school districts (Clark and Stirling, 2016).

The establishment of charter schools in New Jersey was to initially help close the gap between under-performing minority students and their peers in surrounding areas. Results of research and observation have been mixed but in general the finding is that: the typical student in New Jersey charter schools gains more learning in a year than his or her TPS counterparts, about two months of additional gains in reading and three months in math (CREDO, 2012, p. 36). However, there is much criticism and debate among academic leaders on the inclusion of ELL students in these schools. There is one that stands-out in ELL-specific charter school, Hoboken Dual Language Charter School, however, the current demographics show that in proportion to traditional public schools, charter schools currently serve disproportionately fewer ELL students than TPS schools. Eighty-six percent of charter school students are Black or Hispanic, and 72% come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. In Newark, charter schools are serving approximately 35% of all public-school students in the city. (20 years of New Jersey, 2017, p. 4). Although the charter schools in New Jersey are serving a high percentage of minority and low socioeconomic students, there is little data on the ELL demographic in charter schools.

ELL students are faced with learning a new language out of necessity, on top of mastering the regular academic curriculum. Studies have shown that there are two levels of language mastery referred to as Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), which is more difficult to achieve because it requires a broader understanding of a new language. BICS refers to the kinds of language skills necessary to engage in every day, cognitively undemanding interactions, such as the conversation skills used with peers on the playground. CALP refers to the language that is used in specific academic content areas. Proficiency in BICS typically takes 2 to 3 years when given the opportunity to acquire a new language in meaningful contexts. CALP, however, typically takes 5 to 7 years to master. (Chamberlain, 2005, p. 196). Taking into account the language barrier ELL students face it is little wonder why historically the performance of ELL students has been 20% worse than English proficient students. On a national level, the average ELL student scores lower than English speakers in every academic area and have a higher High School drop-out rate (Buckley, Sattin-Bajaj, 2010). With the growing population of ELL students in the United States, the quality of education has become a concern. Between 1996 and 2006 alone, the share of ELL students in U.S. schools rose by almost sixty percent while the total student enrollment essentially did not change (Buckley, Sattin-Bajaj, 2010, p 2). Eighty percent of ELL students are native Spanish speakers. The U.S. population of Hispanic school-aged children is expected to grow forty times faster than that of non-Hispanics by the year 2050 (Lazarin and Ortiz-Licon, 2010). Improving the education of ELL students is critical in ensuring that the U.S. stays competitive with other developed nations on a global scale. The academic achievement of ELL students in charter schools is empirically higher than ELL students in traditional public schools (TPS); however, the question remains if this is because charter schools are serving fewer ELL students. Charter schools are publicly criticized for both over-serving and under-serving ELL students in various states.

Problem Statement

The representation of ELL students in New Jerseys charter schools has been criticized as under-serving ELL students. In general, New Jersey charter schools perform better than the national charter-school average by 17 percent and have higher student achievement in math than reading. Are ELL students underrepresented in New Jersey charter schools? If they are, does this point to segregation? This paper will research the ELL student population in Title 1 Charter Schools compared in Jersey City, Newark, and Camden New Jersey. Demographic trends in the New Jersey comparing charter schools, and ELL student performance in New Jersey charter schools. Wohlstetter and Chau (2004) affirm the fact that policy can influence performance, particularly when schools are given the autonomy to make decisions. The author's statement acknowledges that granting schools autonomy to determine the school calendar, and instructional strategies would probably lead to higher levels of success because it was these teachers and instructors who were well aware of the students' needs due to daily interactions. Rather than let state officers and local officials decide the approach to be taken, Wohlstetter and Chau (2004) argue that autonomy, as observed in charter schools, was the best approach. Similarly, Barr, Sadovnik, and Visconti (2006a) found that the autonomy accorded charter schools, led to significant improvements such as reduced customized class sizes leading the too acceptable student to faculty ratios, reduced student mobility rates, longer academic years, hence increased instructional time. Moreover higher attendance rates by faculty were also observed. All these measures are aimed at improving performance.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this research is to examine whether or not charter schools in Title 1 districts in New Jersey limit the enrollment of English Language Learners Students due to language proficiency and performance. When looking at the percentage of ELL students serve in urban communities there seems to be a pattern of disparity in the enrollment of ELL students in charter schools compared to traditional public schools. This research will determine if charter schools segregate and discriminate against the admission of English Language Learners identifying them as low-performing students to recruit higher- performing students. The rationale is that charter schools limit the number of ELL students in the hope of higher academic perforce making the AYP with less fiscal pressure. ELL students require greater resources which would amplify the cost per student in charter schools. Also, makes the differences in language proficiency and performance, charter schools could limit the number ELL students in fear that population of students would be taking away valuable resources and monies from their financial budget. The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO, 2013) report findings prop up this position, as the study found that students in charter schools learned much more than their counterparts in public schools in the course of a single academic or calendar year. Other than learning a lot more, the CREDO (2013) report also reveals considerable academic performance differences between students in charter schools and those in traditional public schools, with those in charter schools performing much better. The study finding that students from low-income families were more likely to learn more in charter schools as compared to public schools reaffirms the position that charter schools cater to disadvantaged students in a better way compared to public schools.

Research Question

This study looks to find the answer whether or not charter schools in Title 1 districts in New Jersey limit the enrollment of English Language Learners Students due to language proficiency and performance.

1. Do charter schools in Title 1 districts in New Jersey limit the enrollment of English Language Learners Students due to language proficiency and performance?

2. Do charter schools segregate and discriminate against the registration of English Language Learners identifying them as low-performing students to recruit higher- performing students?

3. Is there a pattern of disparity in the enrollment of ELL students in charter schools compared to traditional public school?

Research Design

To begin, the researcher completed the IRB application requesting exempt status. The rationale for the exempt status is because the dataset will be stripped of all identifying information and there is no way that it could be linked back to the subjects for whom it was initially collected. Through a key to a coding system or by any other means, its subsequent use by the researcher would not constitute human subjects research. The overall approach to this study compares the ELL population of students in charter and traditional kindergarten to fifth grade. The Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO, 2013) report findings prop up this position, as the study found that students in charter schools learned much more than their counterparts in public schools in the course of a single academic or calendar year. Other than learning a lot more, the CREDO (2013) report also reveals considerable academic performance differences between students in charter schools and those in traditional public schools, with those in charter schools performing much better. The study finding that students from low-income families were more likely to learn more in charter schools as compared to public schools reaffirms the position that charter schools cater to disadvantaged students in a better way compared to public schools.

The overall appro...

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