An Examination of WIDA ACCESS Scores of English Language Learners in Charter and Traditional Public Schools Settings: A Quantitative Study

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Charter schools have become the fastest-growing school in the United States. While the popularity of charters grew, an increased student population of English language learners enrolled in public schools. The problem was not knowing if there is a difference between English language learner performance in traditional public schools and charter schools in a large metropolitan school district in the Southeast. The purpose of the quantitative, ex post facto study was to investigate academic performance among ELLs to determine whether statistically significant differences existed between participation in charter and traditional public schools and between elementary, middle, and high school levels through a review of World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (ACCESS) scores for 20 charter schools and 20 traditional public schools in a large metropolitan southeastern school district. Rational choice theory and contingency theory of leadership were used to guide this study. Research questions were used to investigate statistically significant differences in academic performance using two-way ANOVA. School-level WIDA ACCESS measures from 2017 were collected for kindergarten through 12th grade. The sample consisted of 1161 charters and 3499 traditional public schools within the same school district. Using WIDA ACCESS, a quantitative, ex post facto research design using two-way ANOVA in SPSS was used to analyze the valid test scores of English language learners who met the exit criteria for the 2017 academic year. An absence of differences in charter and traditional public-school performance implies that the selected school district in the Southeast should focus on policy revision and funding allocation to strengthen school choice options using similar strategies that provide supplemental resources.