On average, English learner (EL) students in seven Washington State school districts took almost four years to become proficient enough in English to be reclassified and exit EL services. That’s one of the findings of our study examining the progress of EL students attending schools participating in the Road Map for Education Results project. Road Map is a cradle-to-career initiative that seeks to improve academic outcomes in a group of high-poverty, low-performing school districts in the metropolitan Seattle area. REL Northwest has been partnering with Road Map on increasing the use of evidence to better support EL student success in the region.
Examining students who entered Road Map district elementary schools from kindergarten to grade 5, the study found that almost a fifth (18 percent) of EL students had not reclassified by the end of the eight years studied. Students who entered the schools in earlier grades reclassified in fewer years than those who enrolled later, with students who enrolled in kindergarten becoming proficient more than a year faster, on average, than students who enrolled in grades 3-5.
In addition to providing a measure of expected progress for ELs, study findings may also help to identify students who are struggling to reach proficiency, as well as specific practices that facilitate or delay the development of English proficiency.