Skip to main content

English Learner Students' Readiness for Academic Success: The Predictive Potential of English Language Proficiency Assessment Scores in Arizona and Nevada

By Eric Haas, Min Huang, Loan Tran


When is the right moment to transition an English learner student from part-time participation in English language development classes into full-time participation in mainstream English-only classes?

Currently, transition criteria center on meeting the English language proficiency levels that each state sets for reclassification of English learner students as fluent English proficient at each grade level. However, no studies describe the extent to which such criteria work as intended.

This REL West report examines the relationship between the English language proficiency level of English learner students and their subsequent performance on English language arts and math content tests.

The study followed two cohorts of students over three years, beginning in 2009/10: one cohort in grade 3 (elementary) and one in grade 6 (middle school).

Key Findings

  • Higher English language proficiency levels among English learner students in grades 3 and 6 in Arizona and Nevada were associated with higher passing rates on subsequent English language arts and math content tests
  • Grade 3 English learner students in Arizona and Nevada could score below the threshold for English language proficiency in 2009/10 and still have a 50 percent or higher probability of subsequently passing the English language arts and math content tests in 2010/11 or 2011/12; however, grade 6 students had to score above the proficiency threshold in order to have a 50 percent probability of subsequently passing the content tests

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2016
Format: PDF
Pages: 40
Publisher: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences