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ERIC Number: ED561957
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Pages: 54
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 22
Reclassification of English Learner Students in California
Hill, Laura E.; Weston, Margaret; Hayes, Joseph M.
Public Policy Institute of California
Former English Learner students who have improved their facility with English to such a degree that they have been reclassified by their school districts as fluent in the English language are among the best performing students in the state. Because these Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) students have much better academic outcomes than English Learner (EL) students, policymakers conjecture that reclassifying ELs more quickly might help close the state's persistent achievement gap between EL and non-EL or English only (EO) students. To substantiate this conjecture--and noting that the standards for reclassification currently vary greatly among school districts--policymakers are interested in assessing whether districts with more rigorous reclassification standards have systematically lower reclassification rates, but also better student outcomes, than districts with less rigorous standards. Because districts determine their own reclassification criteria, it is difficult to compare reclassification rates, the progress of ELs, and the outcomes for ELs and RFEPs across school districts throughout the state. The authors hope this report is informative to policymakers interested in Senate Bill 1108, which has as its goal documenting reclassification policies in California's school districts and their link to student outcomes. In this report, the authors are able to overcome the key limitations of previous research through the use of California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) provided under an arrangement with the California Department of Education (CDE). The data enabled them to track students in each California school district from 2007-08 through 2012-13, excluding students in charter schools. This report provides the first longitudinal analysis of the transition from EL to RFEP status for all California school districts. The analysis indicates that RFEP students not only outperform EL students, but also often do as well as native English speakers when it comes to measures of academic outcomes, such as standardized tests and on-time grade progression. The authors also conducted a survey of school districts, asking detailed questions about their current and former reclassification policies and practices. They found that more than 90 percent of responding districts report using more demanding criteria than are suggested by the State Board of Education (SBE) guidelines for the four reclassification criteria specified in California Education Code Section 313(f). The analysis of student-level longitudinal data in conjunction with survey responses reveals that districts using more stringent reclassification criteria have lower reclassification rates. [The authors received research support from David Ezekiel and Belen Chavez. For the technical appendices for this report "Reclassification of English Learner Students in California. Technical Appendices," see ED561958.]
Public Policy Institute of California. 500 Washington Street Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111. Tel: 415-291-4400; Fax: 415-291-4401; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Public Policy Institute of California
Identifiers - Location: California
IES Cited: ED565624