Scaling up Success for English Language Learners in Charter Schools: Exploring the Role of Charter School Authorizers
Garcia, Peggie Klekotka
Morales, P Zitlali
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The population of English language learners (ELLs) and the number of charter school students have both increased rapidly over the past two decades, but no existing research has examined the role that charter school authorizers play to ensure that ELLs have equitable access to charter schools and that those schools implement research-based programs for ELLs. To fill this gap, our exploratory qualitative study employed a multiple-case case study approach to examine how ten diverse authorizers considered ELLs in their authorizing practices. Guided by Honig’s (2006) three P’s framework (people, places and practices), we examined how authorizing practices were shaped by external factors, the agency of the actors within the authorizing office, and by the local context in which the authorizer was situated. Overall we found that ELL-related authorizing practices varied widely across the sample, as some authorizers integrated ELLs into their practices, while others paid little explicit attention to ELLs. In terms of place, contextual factors at the state, district, and authorizer levels contributed to the variation. Within the people component of the framework, the commitment of authorizing staff members to improve access and quality for ELLs in charter schools was an important factor, as was the authorizer’s access to ELL-related expertise. We conclude by outlining implications for research, practice, and policy.
Subjectcharter school authorizers