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Professor helps identify 'Goldilocks effect' of reclassification of high school English language learners

by Holly Hettick / Nov 12, 2014

The results of a new study by Professor Joseph P. Robinson-Cimpian and Karen D. Thompson of Oregon State University indicate that high school students may sink rather than swim if it is too easy to exit English-learner status.

By contrast, when exit standards increase to a level of difficulty that is just about right, the transition from English-learner to “fluent English proficient” status has little impact on subsequent achievement levels or graduation rates.

The “Goldilocks effect” of the new study by Thompson and Robinson-Cimpian, an assistant professor of quantitative and evaluative research methodologies in the Department of Educational Psychology, has implications for policymakers who may be adjusting reclassification criteria to align with new Common Core standards and exams.

As Common Core exams are rolled out, Robinson-Cimpian and Thompson urge policymakers in their written findings to carefully consider the needs of English-language learners, saying they must determine what an appropriate English-proficient performance standard is on assessments related to new Common Core State Standards.

“Policymakers must also consider whether to include results from [Common Core State Standards] content-area assessments as part of the reclassification criteria,” they write, “and if so, determine appropriate thresholds on those assessments.”

Read the full Education Week blog post by guest blogger Holly Yettick.