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English Learners

Variable Definitions:

EL Reclassification Rate: The percentage of students learning English as a second language who have been “reclassified” as fluent in English by their school districts

Total EL Students: The total number of students learning English as a second language 

California Department of Education (CDE) Ed-Data/Data Quest

Years Available:
2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21 

*The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in statewide physical school closures in February/March 2020 followed by the widespread implementation of distance learning during the 2020–21 academic year. The California Department of Education (CDE) recommends caution when comparing discipline data across academic years. 

Methodology Note: 

The original data comes at the school level. Our team geocoded the school locations to generate X/Y coordinates, then spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts.

The CDE reported a small number of census tracts as having more reclassified students than students in the class for the previous year. These census tracts will have a reclassification rate of slightly over 100% as a result. 

Why are these variables important to measure?

English Learner Reclassification Rate
Students learning English as a second language are considered “reclassified” when their school districts deem that they are now fluent in English. School districts individually determine the criteria for fluency in English, so this measure is not necessarily uniform across districts. As of 2019, the majority of English learners (70%) are enrolled in the elementary grades. 

Reclassified English learners often outperform English-learning students on standardized tests and on-time grade progression, and often do as well as native English speakers in these measures. The percentage of English learning students who have been reclassified can be a measure of how well a community is integrating immigrant and non-English speaking populations into educational and social structures. It should be noted, however, that school districts with less rigorous fluency standards may have higher rates of reclassification than other communities with higher fluency standards. 

Hill, Laura E. et al. “Reclassification of English Learner Students in California.” Public Policy Institute of California, January 2014. Link

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