This study examined the progress of English learner students attending schools participating in the Road Map Project, a cradle-to-career initiative involving seven high-poverty, low-performing school districts in the metropolitan Seattle area. Examining data for English learner students who entered Road Map district elementary schools from kindergarten to grade 5, the study found that 82 percent of the students achieved reclassification in an average of 3.8 years but that 18 percent of the students had not been reclassified by the end of the eight years studied. Students who entered the schools in lower grades were reclassified in less time than those who enrolled in higher grades, with students who enrolled in kindergarten becoming proficient more than a year earlier, on average, than students who enrolled in grades 2-5. The study also found that the level of English proficiency at entry had a different association with time to reclassification, depending on the grade that students entered school.
The study results provide educators with a measure of expected progress for English language students and may also point to student or school characteristics that can help or delay the development of English proficiency.