English Language Learners: Early Identification of Long-Term English Language Learners Using the STAR Literacy Assessment

In the state of California, far too many English Language Learners are not successful in reclassifying as proficient in English in the four to six-year time frame considered average for most students. Students who are “at-risk” for becoming Long-term English Language Learners (LTEL) or who are already considered Long-term English Language Learners represented 29% of all English Language Learners in the state of California last year. This figure is even more troubling in high school where 65% of English Language Learners (ELL) are considered “at-risk” or LTEL. Students who do reclassify as fluent in English (RFEP) outperform not only other ELL students but often outperform native English speakers as well. The literature reviewed shows that LTEL students are often born in this country, but have inconsistencies in their educational programs due to migration or districts switching instructional programming. Most of them lack academic language in both their native language and in English although they often speak both languages conversationally. Some early interventions and specific teaching strategies have been proven to increase results for ELL students. A strong assessment program can help districts determine the progress of ELL students while they are in the lower elementary grades. This quantitative study in methodology seeks to determine the effectiveness of the Renaissance STAR reading program as an early predictor for ELL students’ performance on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) by asking if a correlation can be found between STAR scores in grades one and two and CAASPP scores in grades three through five as well as asking if there are average scores for both students at-risk for becoming LTEL and students to reclassify in a timely matter. This study will help to contribute to the research by comparing a very commonly used assessment, the STAR, to our California’s current standardized test the CAASPP.