Over at TESOL in the News, I came across a courageous attempt by a reporter to explain what educators mean by reclassification rates for English-language learners. This is the rate that children are reclassified from being English-language learners to being fluent in English each year.
Often, when I ask superintendents or state officials what their reclassification rates were for the previous year, they tell me “I can get that,” which I suspect is another way of saying they haven’t paid much heed to the statistic.
Not so in California.
In California, because school districts must report the statistic publicly every year, a staff writer of the Morgan Hill Times has the chance to explain what it means that 135 of 1,900 ELLs in the Morgan Hill Unified School District were reclassified as fluent last school year. California school districts report this statistic to the state department of education, which publishes it on its Web site. (Click here to see that 9.2 percent of ELLs were redesignated as fluent in the 2006-2007 school year, for example.)
I recognize that a reclassification rate doesn’t tell us a lot in itself about the quality of instruction of a school district. The level of academic preparation of new ELLs coming into a district may differ from year to year, for example. It’s also important to know what the criteria for reclassification are.
But I think other states can learn from California in this respect. It’s a milestone when a student reaches fluency—and districts should be constantly gauging how well they are helping students to meet that milestone.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.