Long Term English Learners: A Study of Barriers to Language Reclassification at One High School

This study analyzes the barriers that create challenges for high school students to reclassify from English learner to English proficient before they graduate high school. Research shows Long Term English Learners (LTEL) enter high school deficient in literacy and have a hard time catching up in four years. LTEL students have needs different than the newcomer English learner. Their English verbal fluency is intermediate but they often struggle with writing and, academic vocabulary. High schools have overlooked and underserved this population even though they generally compromise 2/3 of the EL demographics. Recent governmental policies have developed greater accountability for districts to acknowledge their LTEL population and improve their reclassification. A quantitative research design was used by looking at extant data from a North County High school in Southern California to determine the barriers that cause LTEL students to continue as LTEL the four years of high school. The extant data was retrieved from the school’s informational system (Synergy). Barriers that were evident were graduation requirements, CELDT test validity and the reclassification process. LTEL have been in an English language program for more than six years and should be entering high school as English proficient to have the greatest opportunity to graduate and pursue higher education. Recommendations were given in relation to teacher collaboration, graduation path alignment for LTEL and placement of supports systems for LTEL students.