What measures do schools use to reclassify students as English proficient?

What measures do schools use to reclassify students as English proficient?

November 2014


Reclassification occurs when it is determined (typically through English language proficiency exam scores) that the student no longer requires ELL services, sometimes called “exiting.” This should happen when the students are proficient in English and no longer need language instruction.
 

What measures do schools use to reclassify students as English proficient?
Federal Law School districts must annually assess ELLs’ English proficiency. Federal law and policies allow states and districts to determine exit criteria for EL students, but the criteria must meet a few basic standards:
  • Exit criteria should be based on objective standards, like test scores.
  • Students should only leave English language programs when they can read, write, and comprehend English well enough to participate meaningfully in a school setting.
School districts should monitor former ELs for two years after they are reclassified.
Alabama Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Alaska
A pupil remains identified as an ELL until he or she obtains, on tier B or tier C of the approved assessment, a composite score of 5.0 or higher and score of 4.0 or higher in each of the tested domains of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Districts are required to monitor the academic progress of a pupil who has been identified as an ELL for two years after the pupil is no longer identified as an ELL. A former ELL is not required to participate in the annual English language proficiency assessment unless the district determines that a student's failure to make academic progress may be a result of a lack of English language proficiency and the pupil may need to be re-identified as an ELL.
Arizona School districts and charter schools use a board-approved English proficiency assessment at the end of every school year, but ELLs may be tested and reclassified at any time. Students in kindergarten or first grade receive a verbal assessment and schools may also consider other progress measures, including teacher evaluations. Districts and charter schools must notify parents in writing when their students are reclassified as English-proficient.  
Arkansas Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
California
The reclassification procedures include, but are not limited to, a responsible administrative mechanism for the effective and efficient conduct of the language reclassification process, which includes each of the following procedural components:
  • Assessment of language proficiency using the English language development test
  • Participation of the pupil's classroom teacher and any other certificated staff with direct responsibility for teaching or placement decisions of the pupil.
  • Parental involvement through:
    • Notice to parents or guardians of language reclassification and placement, including a description of the reclassification process and the parent's opportunity to participate; and
    • Encouragement of the participation of parents or guardians in the school district's reclassification procedure, including seeking their opinion and consultation during the reclassification process.
School districts are required to monitor the progress of pupils reclassified to ensure correct classification and placement.
Colorado
A redesignated student is one who has achieved a level of “fluent” on a reliable, valid language proficiency assessment and has achieved a level of partially proficient or proficient on the standardized assessment. An exited student is a student that has been redesignated as fluent, has completed two consecutive monitoring years and is ready for formal exit into the mainstream.
Connecticut
ELLs may only stay in a bilingual program for 30 months, consecutive or not, but not including time in summer school and two-way language programs. If an ELL does not meet the English mastery standard at the end of 30 months, the school district must provide language transition services to the student, including ESL programs, sheltered English and English immersion programs or tutoring or homework assistance. Families may also receive guidance from school professionals to help their children make progress in their native language.

According to the department of education, anything beyond that is governed by the department's ELL guidebook or federal law rather than regulatory provisions. The department also indicates that relevant policies codified in the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies pertain to a repealed statute and are not followed.
Delaware
Every ELL student is administered an English language proficiency assessment annually. Students who achieve proficiency score higher than the department-established cut off score must be transitioned as fully English proficient and placed in a regular classroom. Districts and charter schools must monitor these students' academic performance for at least two school years after being identified as fully English proficient. Students who experience academic difficulty in the regular classroom during the transition period may be reassessed and, based on the results, reenter a bilingual or ESL program or be provided with additional instructional services.
District of Columbia Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Florida
ELLs are considered English language proficient and exited from the ELL program after obtaining:
  • Scores of “proficient” at the applicable grade level on an English proficiency assessment; and
  • The following scores on the state reading assessment:
    • Grades K-2, no state reading assessments (English proficiency exam scores only)
    • Grades 3- 9, level 3 or higher
    • Grades 10-12, a score on the 10th grade assessment that meets graduation requirements
Depending on when the exam scores are received, schools must exit English-proficient students by the last school day of the school year or within two weeks of the beginning of the next school year.
 
Regardless of a student's English proficiency exam or state reading assessment scores, ELL students enrolled in an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program may be re-evaluated for English language proficiency upon the request of a student's teacher, counselor, administrator, or parent. An ELL committee must be convened and must follow these procedures:
  • A student being considered for exit is assessed on at least one department-approved assessment covering listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The assessment must be administered within 30 school days or less prior to the committee's decision.
  • The committee reviews the student's academic record, assessment results, and the following criteria to determine whether the student is English language proficient:
    • Extent and nature of prior educational or academic experience, social experience, and a student interview;
    • Written recommendation and observation by current and previous instructional and supportive services staff;
    • Level of mastery of basic competencies or skills in English and/or heritage language according to state or national standards;
    • Grades from the current or previous years; and
    • Results from any other assessments not previously mentioned.
The student exits or remains in the program based on a majority decision of the ELL committee. The parents' preference about the student's English language proficiency determination must be considered in the final decision.
 
Former ELLs' performance must be reviewed periodically for two years after they are classified as English proficient. An ELL committee will be convened if a former ELL student shows consistent patterns of failing grades or under-performance on assessments, but only after the student's parents are notified and given the opportunity to participate. The committee will determine if the student needs additional services. Special consideration is given to parent preference and declines in grades or test performance.
Georgia
Students who score at the proficient level on both the composite score and the literacy (reading and writing) sub-score of the state-adopted English proficiency measure are considered English proficient. Students who do not score at the proficient level may qualify to have their continued eligibility for language assistance determined through a Language Assessment Conference (LAC). The LAC is attended by the student's classroom teacher, the teacher providing language assistance services, and other relevant parties selected from the following: parent, principal or designee, counselor, school psychologist, or lead teacher. Students who are considered English proficient are not eligible for continued language assistance services and are exited from language assistance services. Districts must monitor students for two years after they exit language assistance services, and the monitoring process includes a documented review of report card grades, state assessment results, classroom performance and teacher observations. 
Hawaii Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Idaho Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Illinois
School districts must annually assess the English language proficiency, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, of all ELLs in kindergarten and grades 1-12 using the English language proficiency assessment prescribed by the state superintendent of education. The state superintendent is required to determine and post on the state board of education's website the composite score and the literacy score that will be used to determine whether a student is identified as “proficient”. Each student whose score on the English language proficiency assessment is identified as “proficient” must exit the program of bilingual education services and will no longer be identified as an ELL. Students who are not enrolled in a bilingual education program but who have been identified as ELLs are required to participate in the assessment each year until achieving a “proficient” score.
Indiana Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Iowa
An individual student may exit from an ESL or transitional bilingual education program after an assessment has shown both that the student can function in English (in speaking, listening, reading, and writing) at a level commensurate with the student's grade or age peers and that the student can function academically at the same level as the English speaking grade level peers. These assessments must include state, local, or nationally recognized tests as well as teacher observations and recommendations.
Kansas Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Kentucky Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Louisiana
To be considered English proficient and exit ELL status, an ELL student must score as follows:
  • Grades K-2:
    • Two years at level V on the English language development assessment (ELDA); or, in the same year;
    • At level V on ELDA and at grade-level/benchmark/low-risk on a standardized reading assessment.
  • Grades 3-8:
    • Level V on ELDA; or, in the same year;
    • Level 4 IV on ELDA and at proficient on the ELA or English language arts state content assessment.
  • Grades 9-12:
    • Level V on the ELDA: or, in the same year;
    • Level IV on the ELDA and at proficient on ELA or English state content assessment in the most recent academic year.
Students with disabilities who are unable to meet the above exit criteria after four years or more in ELL status because of their disability, as decided only by consensus of the members of the school building level committee (SBLC), may be exited from ELL status but will still be required to take statewide assessments.
Maine Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Maryland Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Massachusetts
Each school district is required to establish criteria, in accordance with state department of education guidelines, to identify students who may no longer be ELLs.
Michigan Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Minnesota Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Mississippi
Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Missouri Governed by the department of education administrative memo or federal law rather than state policy.
Montana Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Nebraska Students are reclassified if they test proficient on a language proficiency exam and meet or exceed standards on the state reading test. Students in grades K-2 must also have a teacher recommendation.
Nevada ELL students are reassessed for English proficiency at least every 2 years. A student is reclassified if: 
  • His or her academic performance and proficiency to comprehend, speak, read and write English is assessed by his or her teacher and the teacher documents the rationale for recommending the pupil for courses of study that are taught only in English without further instruction in the English language;
  • The parents or legal guardian of the pupil is notified, in their primary language, that the student is being considered for reclassification; is given an opportunity to review the data relating to the performance of the student; and is allowed to participate in the determination of whether the student should be reclassified; and
  • The school district administers an examination selected from a list of examinations approved by the department of education to assess the student's proficiency to comprehend, speak, read and write English and the student obtains a score on the examination that is equal to or greater than a score for a person who is fluent in speaking, reading and writing English.
New Hampshire Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
New Jersey Students in bilingual, ESL, and other ELL-related programs are moved to English-only classrooms based on proficiency exam scores and other indicators, including classroom performance, English reading skills, performance on achievement tests in English, and the judgement of the student's teacher. Students may be in bilingual programs for up to 3 years.

Reclassified students who are not progressing in mainstream classrooms may be retested for reentry into bilingual and ESL programs if they are recommended by a teacher and administrator, and the standard timeline for reassessing reclassified ELLs may be waived if a student is experiencing extreme difficulty adjusting to an English-only classroom setting.
New Mexico Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
New York Students are reclassified when they score "proficient" on the English proficiency exam, administered yearly. Districts must provide transition services to students who have transitioned from ESL or bilingual programs to mainstream classrooms.
North Carolina School districts determine the content knowledge and language skills necessary to be successful in a mainstream classroom. ELLs' English speaking, listening, and literacy skills and content area knowledge are assessed using multiple instruments and teacher judgment. ELLs must not stay in alternative language programs longer than necessary. After leaving an alternative language program, students' progress is monitored for a minimum of six months and additional academic and English language support must be provided if the students begin to have difficulty.
North Dakota Not addressed in state policy.
Ohio An ELL is reclassified when he or she has met one of the following conditions:
  • Grades 3-12: attained the score of 5 on Ohio's approved English language proficiency assessment;
  • Grades 4-12: attained a score of 4 on the assessment, has subsequently completed a trial period of mainstream instruction, and has attained a score of 4 or 5 on the assessment during the trial mainstream period; or
  • Grade 3: attained a score of 4 or 5 on the assessment in grade 2, and has attained a score of 4 on the assessment during the completion of a trial period of mainstream instruction in grade 3.
Students in grades K-2 are not reclassified.
Oklahoma Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Oregon The reclassification process is based on English proficiency assessment scores and evidence of student progress. Beyond that the process is governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Pennsylvania Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Rhode Island Students are monitored for at least two years after reclassification and those who do not progress in their mainstream classroom placement will be reevaluated and may be placed back in an ELL program.

Reclassification is governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
South Carolina Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
South Dakota Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Tennessee Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Texas
A district may transfer an ELL out of a bilingual education or special language program for the first time or a subsequent time if the student is able to participate equally in a regular all-English instructional program as determined by:
  • State department-approved English language proficiency tests administered at the end of each school year to determine students' oral and written English language skills;
  • Satisfactory performance on a reading assessment or an English language arts assessment, as applicable, administered in English. Students in the first or second grade must score at or above the 40th percentile in the reading and language arts sections of a department-approved English standardized test; and
  • Department-approved criterion-referenced tests and the results of a subjective teacher evaluation.
The language proficiency assessment committee may reenroll a student who has been transferred out of a bilingual education or special language program if the student has inadequate English proficiency and achievement. The committee is required to reevaluate a student who is transferred out of a bilingual education or special language program to determine whether the student should be reenrolled if the student earns a failing grade in a core subject during the first two school years. In addition, during the first two school years after a student is transferred out of an ELL program, the language proficiency assessment committee must review the student's performance and consider:
  • The total amount of time the student was enrolled in a bilingual education or special language program;
  • The student's grades each grading period in each subject in the foundation curriculum;
  • The student's performance on each assessment instrument administered;
  • The number of credits the student has earned toward high school graduation, if applicable; and
  • Any disciplinary actions taken against the student.
After this evaluation, the committee may require intensive instruction for the student or reenroll the student in a bilingual education or special language program.
Utah Local boards of education must establish student exit criteria from ELL programs.
Vermont Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Virginia Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Washington Students are reclassified after meeting the superintendent-established exit criteria on the state language proficiency exam.
West Virginia School districts reclassify ELLs based on criteria established by the department of education.
Wisconsin ELLs may stay in bilingual-bicultural programs only until they are able to perform ordinary classwork in English. Reclassification is governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.
Wyoming Governed by the department of education’s ELL guidebook or federal law rather than state policy.


© 2017 by the Education Commission of the States (ECS). All rights reserved. ECS is the only nationwide, nonpartisan interstate compact devoted to education. 700 Broadway #810, Denver, CO 80203-3442

To request permission to excerpt part of this publication, either in print or electronically, please contact the Education Commission of the States’ Communications Department at 303.299.3609 or askinner@ecs.org.

Your Education Policy Team  www.ecs.org