English-Learner Reclassification Rate Returns to 17.2 Percent

LOS ANGELES - More than 24,000 English-learners in L.A. Unified have attained fluency in English, pushing the District’s 2016-17 reclassification rate up to 17.2 percent, thanks to a focused effort to support the instructional needs of students.

Recently released data on English Learners show the reclassification rate jumped by 5.6 percentage points from the previous year, returning the District to the record-high rate it achieved in 2014-15.

Hilda Maldonado, executive director of the Multilingual and Multicultural Education Department, credits District educators for the improved reclassification rate for English-learners, who make up 25 percent of the total enrollment.

“Our principals and teachers are dedicated to the achievement of our English-learner students,” Maldonado said. “We are leveraging new technology-based tools to monitor students’ progress and providing personalized instruction that addresses their specific need, whether it’s in language or literacy.

“We are also more focused on implementing the new English Language Development standards, which are designed to provide students with skills to participate in extended academic conversations, using the English language.”

L.A. Unified’s 17.2 percent reclassification rate is the third-highest among urban districts, and well above the state average of 13.3 percent. The results do not include independent charters, which saw their reclassification rate drop from 15.5 percent in 2015-16 to 14.6 percent this year.

The California Department of Education also reported today that the number of long-term English-learners in L.A. Unified – those who require six or more years of specialized English instruction – is 7.9 percent, compared with the statewide average of 9.4 percent.

 An analysis of the English Learner data shows that L.A. Unified’s middle schools had the largest increase in reclassification rates, jumping tom 12.9 percent in 2015-16 to 21.4 percent this year. Elementary schools increased from 11.3 to 17.2 percent, while the high school rate grew from 12.2 to 14 percent.

Maldonado noted that the California English Language Development Test will be replaced next year by the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California. This assessment will require English-learners to master academic English, which is embedded in the content, grammar and vocabulary of science, math and other subject areas.

Because of their success in mastering academic English and learning rigorous material in their non-native language, English-learners who reclassify as proficient have consistently outscored their peers on standardized assessments.

The importance of English-language fluency is highlighted in Superintendent Michelle King’s Strategic Plan, which sets targets for improving the reclassification rate as part of her overarching goal of 100 percent graduation. This year’s classification target is 20 percent.

“I am proud of our students and grateful to their families and our employees for the progress we are making toward achieving proficiency for all,” the superintendent said.

“We remain committed to providing our English-learners with high-quality instruction and personalized programs and supports that build a strong foundation for language proficiency that values their native language and culture as well as their English language skills.”