Providing appropriate learning environments for students who are not native English speakers is an important element of ensuring equal access to education for students from diverse ethnic backgrounds. This study evaluates the process for reclassifying English learner (EL) students as English proficient. Exploiting the threshold-based reclassification policy in Minnesota, we use a regression discontinuity design to recover counterfactuals— how much would EL students who were not reclassified due to the reclassification policy have improved in academic achievement had they been reclassified? We find that reclassification had no discernible effect on math and reading scores for 3rd-grade EL students, while reclassification increased the math scores of 6th-grade EL students. Our subgroup analysis finds that the positive effects of reclassification mostly depend on the large estimates in the first-year cohort of EL students. Taken altogether, these results imply that reclassification was unlikely to harm the 3rd- and 6th-grade EL students.
ASJC Scopus subject areas