How do you know that your students are achieving?

reclassifiedWhen your English learners gain the proficiency that allows them to be reclassified and mainstreamed, how do you (or does your school) keep track of their progress?

The standard that most districts set for monitoring reclassified English learners is two years. But states vary in their expectations for when ELs are exited. Conor P. Williams, who frequently writes about Dual Language Learners on EdCentral.org, points out a few issues with the current expectations for tracking EL data. The first thing he points out seems obvious, but may generate false perceptions of ELD teachers and EL students among the public and policymakers: The numbers that surround EL learning seem perpetually depressed because students with the highest scores are constantly exiting the pool. The students with high achievement, from the “good” end of the bell curve vanish, leaving nothing to offset the other end which represents students with emerging English skills. What’s more, it’s hard to compare ELs (and exited ELs) on a national level if states are using different systems to monitor student achievement.

Williams suggests an easy fix, which makes sense to me: Monitor transitioned ELs for longer than two years, to get a long-term sense of their growth. This seems like especially useful data as students change schools, or enter middle or high school – they might take an academic dip as they adapt to a new place with different expectations before they are back on track, but how would we ever know? Especially as an ELD teacher who has poured my heart into my job, I’d like to know that I had a lasting impact on my students. But then, no teacher ever really knows for sure whether his/her efforts are appreciated.

Even so, I’m curious to know about the practices at your school – are you able to keep tabs on your past students? What qualifies your students to be reclassified, and for how long are they monitored?

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