In California, educators use a single, standardized test to determine whether a student is an English learner. And to determine whether an English learner has reached fluency? A multitude of strategies come into play — test scores, grades, teacher evaluations, and parental input.

This discrepancy, along with the fact that schools lose funding when English learners are reclassified as proficient, means that many English learners linger in limited-English classes unnecessarily.

Robert Linquanti, former Project Director at WestEd, comments in this article that the discrepancy “means that there are a thousand different definitions of [English learner] across the state.” The myriad definitions of both English learner and fluency results in unreliable statistics on English learners.