How long does it typically take English learner students to develop English proficiency? This question is important to educators because English proficiency is linked to academic success in the United States. Knowing the typical time it takes English learner students to develop English proficiency provides educators with a measure of expected progress. This knowledge may also help educators identify specific programs and practices that facilitate or delay the development of English proficiency. Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Northwest undertook this study in response to a request from a REL research alliance, the Road Map Project, to better understand how long it takes English learner students in alliance districts to achieve reclassification as former English learner students. Road Map is a cradle-to-career initiative involving seven districts in Washington state (Auburn, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Renton, Seattle, and Tukwila) with the highest rates of poverty and lowest levels of academic achievement in the Seattle metropolitan area. This study presents findings on the average time to reclassification, which is the average number of years it took English learner students to develop the English proficiency necessary to reach a grade-specific score on Washington's English language proficiency assessment and be officially reclassified as former English learner students in the seven Road Map districts. Because not all English learner students were reclassified within the time period of the study (2005/06-2012/13), the rate of reclassification (the percentage of students who achieved reclassification by 2012/13) was also examined. The study includes 17,733 English learner students and former English learner students (eight cohorts) who began kindergarten in 2000/01-2007/08 and entered a Road Map district elementary school at any time between the beginning of kindergarten and the end of grade 5.
Early Childhood Education