When is the right moment to transition an English learner student from part-time participation in English language development classes into full-time participation in mainstream English-only classes? English learner students should be moved into full-time mainstream English-only classes when they are sufficiently fluent in English to be able to continue to grow in English fluency and subject matter content knowledge and reach expected minimums on state content tests, generally within two years of the transition. Currently, transition criteria center on meeting the English language proficiency levels that each state sets for reclassification of English learner students as fluent English proficient at each grade level. However, no studies describe the extent to which such criteria work as intended. In other words, how ready are English learner students to achieve minimum subject matter content knowledge levels in English language arts and math at the English proficiency level for reclassification as fluent English proficient and placement in mainstream English-only classes? This study examined the relationship between the English language proficiency level of English learner students in Arizona and Nevada and the students' subsequent performance on English language arts and math content tests. It followed two cohorts of students over three years, beginning in 2009/10: one cohort in grade 3 (elementary) and one in grade 6 (middle school). This report describes the percentage of English learner students at each proficiency level who passed the English language arts and math content tests in the two years following the English language proficiency assessment (2010/11-2011/12) as well as the probability that an English learner student would subsequently pass the content tests based on his or her English language proficiency assessment scale score. English learner students at higher proficiency levels had higher passing rates on the academic content tests. For example, in Arizona 58 percent of grade 3 students at the intermediate proficiency level (level 4) in 2009/10 passed the English language arts content test at least once in 2010/11 or 2011/12, compared with 96 percent of grade 3 students at the proficient level (level 5). Grade 3 English learner students in Arizona and Nevada could score below the threshold for English language proficiency in 2009/10 and still have a 50 percent or higher probability of subsequently passing the English language arts and math content tests in 2010/11 or 2011/12. For example, grade 3 English learner students in Nevada could score 25 scale score points below the reclassification threshold and still have a 50 percent or higher probability of passing the English language arts content test in the subsequent two years. But grade 6 English learner students in Arizona and Nevada needed to score above the threshold for reclassification as fluent English proficient. For example, in Nevada, grade 6 English learner students had to score 46 scale score points above the reclassification threshold to have a 50 percent or higher probability of passing the math content test in the subsequent two years. The following are appended: (1) Supporting data tables; (2) Data and methodology; (3) Passing rate probability figures; and (4) Distribution of English language proficiency assessment scale scores.
ERIC DescriptorsAcademic Achievement, Correlation, English (Second Language), English Language Learners, Grade 3, Grade 6, Language Arts, Language Proficiency, Mathematics Achievement, Prediction, Probability, Regression (Statistics), Scores, Standardized Tests
West | Publication Type: Descriptive Study | Publication
Date: October 2016