This study from the Institute of Education Sciences examined how long it typically takes children with English as an additional language (EALs) to become proficient in English and how this time differs by student characteristics such as gender, home language, or initial proficiency in English. The authors analysed state data for nearly 17,000 EALs who entered kindergarten (Year 1) between 2005/06 and 2011/12 in seven cohorts in Washington State in the US. Key findings included:
Students who entered kindergarten as EALs took a median of 3.8 years to develop the English proficiency necessary to be reclassified as former EALs.
EALs entering kindergarten with advanced English proficiency were more likely to be reclassified in their first eight years of school than those entering with basic proficiency or intermediate proficiency.
Female EALs were more likely than male EALs to be reclassified in their first eight years of school.
Speakers of Chinese, Vietnamese, or Russian or Ukrainian (combined) were more likely to be reclassified in their first eight years of school than speakers of Somali or Spanish.
The authors hope this information can help to identify students who may take longer to reach proficiency and therefore may need additional support. Also, they say the information can help inform assessment and accountability systems and help establish targets that take specific factors, such as English proficiency at entry to school, into account.
Source:English Learner Student Characteristics and Time To Reclassification: An Example From Washington State (2016), REL Northwest.