Findings from a Study of Multilingual Learner Reclassification and Science Achievement

F. Chris Curran, PhD
Lelydeyvis Boza
Amber W. Deig
Katharine T. Harris-Walls
Tiffany Tan
UF Education Policy Research Center Policy Brief

Multilingual learners (MLs) – students who are learning English alongside another language – are a growing population in the United States. Many of these students receive formal English learner (EL) services at school. This policy brief highlights findings from a recently published study that examined the relationship between reclassification out of EL services and subsequent science achievement for ML students. Analysis of nationally representative data shows that MLs who are reclassified out of ML services continue to perform on par to similarly situated students who were not reclassified, suggesting that reclassification is neither harming nor promoting their subsequent science achievement. This suggests that educators’ decisions around the timing of reclassification may be appropriate for most students, though the study finds some evidence that there are differential relationships depending on MLs’ prior educational settings and achievement levels. The brief concludes with recommendations for educators, policymakers, and researchers interested in promoting successful trajectories of science learning for MLs.


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