How Do Algebra I Course Repetition Rates Vary Among English Learner Students by Length of Time to Reclassification as English Proficient?

By Karina Jaquet, Tony Fong

How do Algebra I course repetition rates vary among English learner students by length of time to reclassification as English proficient?
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This REL West research report examines Algebra I repetition rates of English learner students based on whether these students were reclassified as English proficient and, if so, how long it took them to be reclassified.

The report also compares the performance of students in different English learner status groups in repeating Algebra I and in taking higher level math courses in high school.

Researchers examined four English learner status groups in a California high school district in 2008/09–2011/12 and in five of its seven feeder elementary (K–8) school districts in 2006/07–2007/08.

Key Findings

  • Long-term English learner students (classified by grade 1 and not reclassified as English proficient by grade 12) had the highest rates of Algebra I repetition, followed by reclassified long-term English learner students (reclassified in any of grades 7–12)
  • Repetition rates increased the longer it took a student to be reclassified
  • After repeating Algebra I, all four English learner status groups showed statistically significant improvements in course grades
  • Among students who repeated Algebra I, higher rates of short-term English learner students (reclassified before grade 7) than of students in the other groups improved their grades; similarly, higher rates of short-term English learner students completed Algebra II or a higher math course

Understanding these patterns can inform decisions about the nature and intensity of support that might be provided to English learner students before and after reclassification.