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Patterns of English learner student reclassification in New York City public schools

Region:
Northeast & Islands
Description:
This study was designed to describe patterns in reclassification from English learner to English proficient, how the patterns changed over time as students spent more time in New York City (NYC) schools, and how reclassification patterns differed by specific student characteristics. The study utilized existing administrative data for seven cohorts of students who entered New York City public schools as English learner students between the 2003/04 and 2010/11 school years. The seven cohorts were followed for periods ranging from two to nine years, through the 2011/12 school year. The analytic sample included 229,249 students who were initially classified as English learner students. The first research question used the subset of data for students who entered NYC schools as English learner students in kindergarten, with the goal of comparing the probability of reclassification as it changed over grade levels, through the end of grade 7. The second research question used these data combined with the data on students who entered after kindergarten to facilitate comparisons in time to reclassification between students who entered at different grade levels. To address the three student characteristics of interest (grade of entry, initial English proficiency, and disability status), three separate, parallel models were used to investigate the relationship between time to reclassification and each characteristic individually. In the analyses for both research questions, discrete-time survival analyses were used to estimate the probability of reclassification as it changed over time. Approximately half of the students who entered kindergarten in New York City public schools as English learner students were reclassified within four years (that is, by the end of their expected grade 3 year). English learner students who entered New York City public schools in grade 6 or 7 took a year longer to become reclassified than English learner students who entered in kindergarten. Students with higher levels of initial English proficiency took less time to become reclassified than students with lower levels of initial English proficiency. Students with specific learning disabilities took four years longer to become reclassified than students without disabilities, and students with speech or language impairments took two years longer to become reclassified than students without disabilities. District and state policies and practices should focus attention on efforts to improve services for English learner students who are at elevated academic risk. Further research should investigate whether particular school or classroom interventions are effective in helping English learner students who enter school with lower initial English proficiency to develop English skills, as well as instructional practices for English learner students with specific learning disabilities and speech or language impairments, particularly the way in which students are provided with both special education and English learner student services.
Publication Type:
Making Connections
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
October 2016
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