English-Learner Reclassification Rate Tops 20 Percent

LOS ANGELES (April 13, 2018) - L.A. Unified’s reclassification rate climbed to a record-high of 20.7 percent in 2017-18, as personalized instruction and improved monitoring helped more than 27,000 English-learners to attain fluency in English.

Newly released data from the California Department of Education showed the reclassification rate increased 3.5 percentage points from 2016-17, and is well above the 14.6 percent average reported by the state. When District-authorized independent charters are factored in, L.A. Unified’s reclassification rate is 20.1 percent.

The most significant increase was achieved by middle schools, which jumped 5.3 points to 26.8 percent. Elementary schools increased from 17 percent in 2016-17 to 21.2 percent this year. The reclassification rate among high schools hovered at 14 percent.

Hilda Maldonado, executive director of the Division of Instruction’s Multilingual and Multicultural Education Department, credits District educators bolstering the reclassification rate for English-learners, who make up about 23 percent of the District’s total enrollment.

“Our students are empowered when they attain fluency in English, and we are proud of the collaboration and hard work of L.A Unified leaders, principals and teachers in helping so many of our English-learners achieve this goal,” said Maldonado, who is a former English-learner. “Through our commitment to high-quality instruction and personalized supports, the District has attained its highest-ever reclassification rate. We plan to build on this momentum and provide additional opportunities to support this historically underserved student population.”

District leaders hope the ongoing expansion of the popular dual-language programs will propel even greater gains in the years ahead. The District plans to add three dozen dual-language programs next year to the 101 currently offered. These programs teach academic courses in English as well as a student’s native language, allowing them to become both bilingual and biliterate as they learn at a gradual pace. 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.

“I am proud of the students for this amazing achievement and grateful to their families and our employees for their support and dedication,” said Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “We expect to build on our success with the expansion of the District’s dual-language programs so that more students can graduate as biliterate, bilingual and engaged global citizens.”

Board of Education members said the improvement in the reclassification rate reflects the District’s commitment to providing English-learners with high-quality instruction and supports needed to build a foundation to language proficiency.

“Our commitment to 100 percent graduation for all students is our District’s goal, and ensuring English-learners’ success toward that goal is our mission,” said Board President Mónica García. “When an English-learner learns a second language, their future is changed along with their family’s future for generations to come. Good job L.A. Unified! Our diversity is our strength.”

“I’m proud of our significant progress in ensuring our English-learners reclassify quickly by building on the strengths they bring as multilingual learners,” said Board Vice President Nick Melvoin. “And as a former English-as a-second-language teacher, I thank the hard-working educators who are ensuring that all of our students are mastering not just language, but all academic standards. The Board’s recently passed Student Equity Need Index and the Student Performance Framework bring new tools to this work. And as we focus on our English-learners, we’re also aware that L.A.’s future is a bilingual one. I’m excited for the day when every L.A. Unified graduate is bilingual and biliterate."

“We are pleased with the upward trend on our English-learner reclassification rates and look forward to continued academic gains,” said Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III.

“Our students need language skills to be competitive in a global economy. I applaud the dedication and hard work of our employees, students and parents as we prepare every child in Los Angeles to become a 21st century college- and career-ready graduate,” said Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson.

“An increase in the English-learner reclassification rates is always good news,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “I want our English-learners to have every opportunity open to them, with every tool at their disposal. We still have work to do, though. Along with successful implementation of the updated curriculum, L.A. Unified needs to continue increasing the number of bi- or multilingual teachers in our schools and offering more dual-language pathways. For now, these new numbers are cause for gratitude for the hard work and relentless dedication of our teachers, administrators and the everyday successes of our students. This news underscores the steady progress we have made and provides an opportunity to evaluate where we’re succeeding and how we can improve our capacity to serve all District students.”

"L.A. Unified serves the highest number of English-learners of any district in the nation, and our students are achieving record-breaking rates of reclassification and gaining biliteracy skills,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “Our latest results show that with equitable investments and supports, all students – regardless of their home language – are capable of achieving academic success."

"I am pleased with the elementary and middle school results and the overall focus being put into this learner group of students,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “We still have so much to do for our high school students so that they can have the same access to the core curriculum that will provide them with an advantage and foundation for the future."

 

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Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766