Poster Paper: A New Measure of English Language Development Course “Quality” for Use in Quantitative Analyses of English Learner Student Progress

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Laura Hill1, Julian Betts2, Karen Volz Bachofer2, Joseph Hayes1, Andrew Lee1 and Andrew Zau2, (1)Public Policy Institute of California, (2)University of California, San Diego

Much has been made of the poor student outcomes for English Learner (EL) students in schools. It is well understood that former EL students who gain sufficient English Language proficiency perform much better on a variety of academic outcomes. In most quantitative research on EL academic success, little is known about the content and quality of EL instruction. This is a difficult challenge to overcome, given the variability in instruction across schools (and even classrooms within schools) and the tremendous expense that would be required to document these differences for use in quantitative modeling. This poster session will present results of what we argue is an intermediate spot on the continuum of measuring English language development (ELD) content and quality – measures of assignment to appropriate (according to school districts’ EL Master Plans) ELD courses, as well as measures of the peers in those classrooms.

Our data are for the two largest California school districts, Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified, which together educate 15 percent of EL students in the state and 5 percent in the nation. We have individual student-level data for 10 years. Using the detailed policy memos, Master Plan documents, and conversations with district administrators, we are able to code whether EL students in grades 6-12 have been placed into appropriate ELD course by semester, as well as the mix of students that are in those classrooms. For those that do not have an appropriate placement, we can determine if their placement was too low, too high, or that they received no ELD placement. For grades K-5, we can describe whether EL students received ELD placements and the peer composition of their classrooms (the mix of proficiency levels among EL students, the share of reclassified students, and the share of fluent English proficient students).

We document trends in correct placement across time, across type of EL student (e.g. long term EL), and individual students. This poster session presents research that is an intermediary step along the way to the ultimate goal of assessing EL student outcomes. Ultimately, these indicators of correct placement will be used in regression models (including regression discontinuity) to understand EL student progress and EL reclassification.