A mixed-methods study: Districts’ implementation of language classification policies and the implications for male, Hispanic, and low-income middle school students

Marcela Reyes, Thurston Domina

Abstract


California state policy requires English language learners (ELL) to pass the California English Language Development Test and the California Standards Test in English Language Arts to be Reclassified Fluent English Proficient (RFEP). However, most districts make it more difficult for ELL students to reclassify by setting reclassification requirements that are more stringent than the state-mandated requirement. In this paper, we examine the reclassification process for two California school districts. In Manzanita Unified School District, administrators describe a system that explicitly provides a role for parents and teachers to influence reassignment decisions. In Granada Unified School District, administrators describe a system that is exclusively test-driven. Nevertheless, these two approaches yield similar reclassification outcomes. In both districts, male, Hispanic, and low-income ELL students are less likely to take or pass the required assessments. Even among students who do pass the assessments male, Hispanic, and low-income students are still less likely to be reclassified. We draw upon the notion of tight- and loose-coupling in educational organizations to make sense of this disconnect between ELL reclassification policies and reclassification outcomes in these two districts. We recommend administrators and teachers work together to establish but also implement their district’sobjec language classification policies.


Keywords


English language learners; language classification policies; mixed-methods

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.27.4210

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