Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Reclassification of ELLs Varies by School

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Reclassification of ELLs Varies by School

Article excerpt

As the number of English Language Learners (ELLs) continues to grow across the nation, new research indicates these students are being treated differently depending on where they go to school.

Researchers found that schools in Texas--second only to California in total number of ELLs--vary widely in how they determine if students should be reclassified as English proficient, affecting their chances of success in school and beyond.

An ELL in the El Paso metropolitan area, for example, is nearly twice as likely to be reclassified by the end of seventh grade compared to a student performing at the same level in the Rio Grande Valley. Recent changes in federal law require all states to standardize how they identify and reclassify English learners, but Texas has had policies in place since the 1990s.

"If we are seeing this amount of variation in Texas, imagine what we would see in a state where the population is newer, and educators have less experience serving immigrants and English learners," said professor Madeline Mavrogordato, lead author of the study.

At least 1 in 10 U.S. students is classified as an English learner, compared to 1 in 20 in 1990.

Being reclassified is a key turning point in a student's educational trajectory, said Mavrogordato. If it occurs too early, English learners could find themselves struggling without the support services they need. If too late, students may be restricted from taking higher-level courses that would prepare them for college.

Mavrogordato used state data to estimate reclassification rates for ELLs throughout Texas over seven years. …

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