“We’re Caught In Between Two Systems”: Exploring New Accountability Challenges of Dual Credit Implementation
Julia C. Duncheon, Stefani R. Relles
Dual credit courses have emerged as a popular strategy to bolster the college completion agenda, yet research on program implementation is scarce. This qualitative study uses complexity theory to investigate how teachers enacted dual credit at eight high schools partnered with one community college system in a U.S.-Mexico border region of Texas. To analyze over 140 hours of interview conversations, we use complexity theory, which suggests that how information travels through complex systems is an indicator of organizational effectiveness. Findings indicate that information sharing with the dual credit teachers was contradictory on multiple counts, creating confusion surrounding standards for pedagogy, curriculum, and grading. Ultimately, we find that conflicting mechanisms of institutional accountability on either side of the partnership made it difficult for teachers to align their instruction with college preparation goals. Implications for theory, policy, and practice are discussed.
Principal Burnout: How Urban School Leaders Experience Secondary Trauma
David E. DeMatthews, David S. Knight, Elena Izquierdo, Paul Carrola
The mental health needs of school principals have been consistently overlooked in the field of educational leadership and in the preparation and professional development of principals. This mixed-method study compares rates of burnout and secondary trauma of principals in one urban school district along the U.S.-Mexico border with other human service professionals and provides examples of how two principals experienced burnout and secondary trauma. Most principals reported low rates of burnout and secondary trauma, but follow-up interviews with two newer principals revealed significant exposure to trauma. Findings inform new directions for research and new emphases for preparation.
Righting Past Wrongs: A Superintendent’s Social Justice Leadership for Dual Language Education Along the U.S.-Mexico Border
David E. DeMatthews, David S. Knight, Elena Izquierdo
The role of superintendents in adopting and developing dual language education and other equity-oriented reforms that support the unique needs of Latina/o emergent bilinguals is a relatively unexplored area in educational leadership and policy research. Drawing upon theories of social justice leadership, this article examines how one superintendent in the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD) engaged in leadership to address injustices against Mexican and Mexican-American emergent bilinguals through the implementation of district-wide dual language education. EPISD provided a strategic site for this study because the previous superintendent and administration were a part of a large-scale cheating scandal that “disappeared” hundreds of Mexican and Mexican-American students. This study highlights the important role of the superintendent in supporting equity-oriented school reforms such as dual language education, identifies describes the ways leaders can take advantage of political opportunities, frame educational injustices in ways that mobilize key stakeholders, and utilize networks and grassroots movements for social justice means. This article concludes with implications for future research.
On Becoming a District of Choice: Implications for Equity along the U.S.-Mexico Border
Stephen Kotok, David S. Knight, Huriya Jabbar, Luis Rivera, Rodolfo Rincones
Purpose: Despite the popularity of open enrollment as a school choice mechanism, there is little research on how principals behave in a district-run competitive setting. This study provides insight into how open enrollment policies affect the role of the principal as well as educational equity by examining the roles and behaviors of school principals in an unregulated marketplace of schools.
Research Methods: This study utilizes an explanatory sequential mixed methods approach. We first analyze school-level transfer data for school year 2014-15 and demographic data in order to examine trends such as poverty concentration as well as to identify “winners,” “losers,” and “non-players” in the open enrollment marketplace. Based on these categories, we interviewed 12 principals to better understand their role in the competitive settings.
Findings: We find that some schools have emerged as “winners” in this open enrollment marketplace, attracting large numbers of transfers without losing many students, while other principals and schools struggle to overcome a negative perception and find a market niche to attract students. Our quantitative analysis indicates a relatively small relationship between open enrollment and increased economic segregation in the district, but there is some reason to infer poverty concentration will intensify as the plan continues.
Implications: These findings have implications for school and district leaders navigating open enrollment plans as a means to increase enrollments and encourage innovation while also seeking to maintain equitable student opportunity.
Compounded Inequities: Assessing School Finance Equity for Low-Income English Language Learners
David S. Knight and Jesus E. Mendoza
School districts face different costs to produce the same level of educational opportunity because of differences in student population, geographical costs of living, and district size. However, in many states, the school finance system fails to take these factors into account when distributing funds to school districts. Most prior analyses of state school finance systems focus on the relationship between district funding and the percent of low-income students in that district or the percent of emergent bilinguals, who are typically classified as English language learners (ELLs).
We present the first longitudinal descriptive evidence of the extent to which state school finance systems compound inequities for districts serving high concentrations of both low-income students and emergent bilinguals. We assess the extent to which high-ELL high-poverty districts are underfunded relative to otherwise similar districts in the same state and how these trends have changed leading up to and following the recession-era spending cuts.
We find that prior to the recession, high-ELL districts received greater funding levels than otherwise similar low-ELL districts in the same state. However, recessionary spending cuts disproportionately impacted funding for emergent bilinguals. The remaining resource advantages for high-ELL districts are concentrated in low-poverty districts. These findings are consistent across measures of funding, expenditures and staffing ratios. Finally, our cross-state analyses identify wide differences in the extent to which states allocate resources equitably across districts. We find that larger student weights for ELL and FRL students may increase funding for those students, but there is a relatively weak relationship between the size of funding weights for special populations and the degree of funding equity for those students.
Assessing the Educational Opportunity of Emergent Bilingual Students: Do State School Finance Systems Provide Equitable Funding?
David S. Knight and David E. DeMatthews
Despite the rapid increase in enrollment of students who speak a language other than English at home, little prior research examines whether school districts receive adequate funding for instructional programs for emergent bilinguals. We show that Great Recession budget cuts disproportionately impacted districts with greater proportions of students classified as English language learners (ELL). Next, we compare state mechanisms for funding bilingual education and explore which approaches are associated with equitable funding for high-ELL districts. Finally, we draw on data from Texas to show that high-ELL Texas districts levy higher local property taxes, but have lower property values. Despite greater taxing effort, high-ELL districts receive an inequitable share of state funding following the Great Recession budget cuts.
Cost-Effectiveness of Early Childhood Interventions to Enhance Head Start: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment
David S. Knight, Susan H. Landry, Tricia A. Zucker, Jeffrey M. Williams, Emily C. Merz, Cathy L. Guttentag, and Heather B. Taylor
We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of instructional coaching and parent coaching models in Head Start using a randomized trial. The study design allowed us to compare the individual effects of each coaching model as well as their combined effect on student outcomes. Teachers receiving instructional coaching improved their use of language and literacy instructional practices, while parents receiving family coaching showed increases in numerous responsive parenting behaviors associated with positive child outcomes. Instructional coaching was more cost-effective than parent coaching in promoting these evidence-based practices. However, only the parent coaching model showed significant impacts on student outcomes. Parent coaching alone with no instructional coaching was, therefore, the most cost-effective of the three treatment conditions for improving student outcomes.
Are School Districts Allocating Resources Equitably? The Every Student Succeeds Act, Teacher Experience Gaps, and Equitable Resource Allocation
David S. Knight
Ongoing federal efforts support equalizing access to experienced educators for low-income students and students of color, thereby narrowing the “teacher experience gap.” I show that while high-poverty and high-minority schools have larger class sizes and receive less funding nationally, school districts allocate resource equitably, on average, across schools. However, the least experienced teachers are still concentrated in high-poverty and high-minority schools, both across and within districts. I then show that additional state and local funding is associated with more equitable district resource allocation. The study offers recommendations for state and federal education policy related to the Every Student Succeeds Act.
Are High-Poverty School Districts Disproportionately Impacted by State Funding Cuts? School Finance Equity Following the Great Recession
David S. Knight
The Great Recession caused states around the country to make substantial budget cuts to public education. As a result, districts that rely more heavily on state funding – those with greater concentrations of students in poverty – may be disproportionately impacted by the Great Recession funding cuts; however, little prior research examines this issue. This study examines how state school finance systems responded to recessionary funding cuts on average nationally. The study then draws on state-specific data to examine local district taxation patterns in response to state spending cuts. The study finds that (a) on average across states, high-poverty districts experienced an inequitable share of funding and staffing cuts following the Great Recession; (b) changes in the income-based funding gap varied across states; (c) higher-poverty districts increased local tax rates at a faster rate than low-poverty districts in Texas; and (d) the funding gap increased in Texas by more than in 43 other states; (e) lack of subsidies for facilities funding and other idiosyncrasies within the Texas school finance system prevented high-poverty districts from maintaining equitable funding levels, despite increasing tax rates at a faster rate than otherwise similar wealthier districts; and (f) leveling up funding for high-poverty districts in Texas would cost the state $9.1 billion, a 17% increase in education spending. The study provides evidence on how school districts were impacted by recessionary spending cuts and how they responded, and offers alternative strategies for restoring state education budgets.