English-language learners who enter kindergarten with a basic grasp of academic language, “either in their primary language or in English,” are more likely over time to be reclassified as former ELLs,. an analysis from Oregon State University has found.
Karen Thompson, an assistant professor of cultural and linguistic diversity in Oregon State University’s College of Education, reviewed nine years of student data on more than 200,000 students from the Los Angeles school district to gauge how long it takes students to develop English proficiency.
Her analysis shows that students who don’t reach proficiency in the typical window, generally by the time they reach upper elementary, are less likely to ever do so. Those students share a common characteristic: They enter kindergarten with a limited command of academic language.
About 25 percent of students do not master English after nine years in the city’s public schools, Thompson found.
A version of this article appeared in the November 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as Learning English