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Reclassification

Information on how a local educational agency (LEA) determines whether or not an English learner (EL) student has sufficient English proficiency to be reclassified as a fluent English speaker.

Reclassification Determined by Local Educational Agencies (LEAs)

Reclassification is the process whereby a student is reclassified from English learner (EL) status to Fluent English Proficient (RFEP) status. Reclassification can take place at any time during the academic year, immediately upon the student meeting all the criteria.

Each LEA establishes a locally-approved reclassification process, including any documents used to communicate information regarding that process, in order to determine when students are eligible for RFEP status changes due to meeting each of the four criterion listed in Education Code (EC) Section 313 (f) External link opens in new window or tab.. Each criterion must be met by every student eligible for RFEP status. (See Criteria tab below.) The Reclassification Rainbow graphic reminds us to always consider the criteria holistically when making reclassification decisions.

Following the Reclassification Rainbow (PPTX)

RFEP Counts Reported by LEAs

LEAs submit RFEP records for students reclassified during the school year using their locally-approved process and report them in the count of students reclassified in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). The results can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) English Learner Data web page. The official RFEP count (as certified by an End-of-Year report available each spring) has transitioned from a count of students reclassified from Census Day to Census Day to a count of students reclassified during the school year between July 1 and June 30. Please see the CALPADS Calendar for information regarding reporting schedules for the count of EL students reclassified during the school year.

LEAs Monitor RFEP Students for Four Years

The CDE released guidance regarding RFEP monitoring in a letter to LEAs titled Monitoring of Reclassified Students. State and federal laws require LEAs to monitor students who have exited EL status for a period of four years after they have RFEP status (20 United States Code Section 6841[a][4][5]; Title 5 California Code of Regulations [5 CCR] Section 11304). After students have exited an EL program through the locally-approved reclassification process, LEAs must monitor the academic progress of those RFEP students for at least four years to ensure that:

  • The students have not been prematurely exited;
  • Any academic deficit they incurred as a result of learning English has been remedied; and
  • The students are meaningfully participating in the standard instructional program comparable to their English-only peers.

In preparation for and during the four-year RFEP monitoring period, LEAs can continue to use the results of Criteria 2–4 to inform areas of focus for reclassified students. To this end, LEAs should establish rigorous monitoring systems that include benchmarks for expected growth in acquiring academic content knowledge during the academic year and take appropriate steps to assist students who are not adequately progressing toward those goals. During this monitoring time, LEAs must ensure that RFEP students have met the same academic achievement goals set for all students.

If RFEP students do not yet meet the same academic achievement goals set for all students during the four monitoring years or beyond, intervention and support are to be provided. These services are not dependent on specialized funds. When an LEA’s monitoring of an RFEP student indicates that academic deficits were incurred while the student learned English, the LEA should take affirmative steps to provide remedy of those deficiencies and continue to provide support until resolved. For example, RFEP students who score below the adjusted range of performance on Criterion 4, during the four-year monitoring period, should receive focused support to ensure that they reach and maintain parity with native-English peers.

Reclassification Criteria

The reclassification criteria set forth in California EC Section 313 and 5 CCR Section 11303 remain unchanged. LEAs should continue using the following four criteria to establish reclassification policies and procedures:

Criterion 1: Assessment of English Language Proficiency

Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument, including, but not limited to, the English language development test that is developed pursuant to EC Section 60810 External link opens in new window or tab.:

  • The English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) constitute the required state assessments for English language proficiency (ELP) administered to students whose primary language is a language other than English. With the possible exception of students with unique needs or who are dually identified, EL students who do not have either a Summative ELPAC or Summative Alternate ELPAC score are not eligible to be reclassified, even if they have met other locally-determined criteria.
    • The ELPAC Overall Performance Level (PL) 4 was approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) as the statewide standardized ELP criterion for the Summative ELPAC. LEAs shall use ELPAC Overall PL 4 to determine whether a student assessed with the Summative ELPAC has met that criterion.
      • Students who score at Summative ELPAC Overall PL 4 should be considered for reclassification.
      • Students who score at Summative ELPAC Overall PL 3 or lower should not be considered for reclassification. However, LEAs are encouraged to convene interest holders for a larger conversation to inform planning, placement, and personal goals for the short term and the next school year. These convenings should include parents, whenever possible, and focus on strengths, growth areas, and opportunities for the student.
      • Some EL students with unique needs, or dually-identified students, may need specific considerations for how this criterion is met as described in the student’s individualized education plan (IEP). In such instances, members of the student's IEP team should confer to document and discuss how the student's unique needs affect their ability to obtain an Overall PL 4.
    • The Summative Alternate ELPAC is the state test for ELP for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities and it is currently recommended, pending approval by the SBE, that LEAs use Summative Alternate ELPAC Level 3 (Fluent English Proficient) as the Alternate ELP criterion.
      • All students with a Summative Alternate ELPAC Level 3 (Fluent English Proficient) are eligible to be considered for reclassification, in conjunction with the other three locally determined required reclassification criteria.

Resources to Support Criterion 1

Criterion 2: Teacher Evaluations

Teacher evaluations, including, but not limited to, a review of the pupil's curriculum mastery:

  • This criterion remains locally determined and LEAs should continue using teacher evaluations per local policy to establish reclassification policies and procedures for Criterion 2. Teacher evaluation is not to be interpreted as teacher opinion and should be based on data as well as the LEA’s locally-established process for soliciting teacher evaluation.
    • For students who score at ELPAC Overall PL 4 or Summative Alternate ELPAC Level 3 (Fluent English Proficient), LEAs should establish a local policy and process to collect feedback on an eligible student’s mastery of the curriculum provided by that student’s teachers (See Resources to Support Criterion 2).
      • Because the student may have different language support needs across different subject areas, all teachers and certificated staff with direct responsibility for teaching or placement decisions of the student should be afforded the opportunity to evaluate.
    • If other reclassification criteria suggest that a student who scored at Summative ELPAC Overall PL 4 or Summative Alternate ELPAC Level 3 (Fluent English Proficient) has learning deficits in other areas, decision-makers are encouraged to discuss these results with those who know the student (e.g., classroom teachers, parents, instructional specialists or coaches) to identify needed services and supports, so as not to preclude a student with unique needs from demonstrating readiness for reclassification.
      • Please note: Deficits in academic success, although currently unrelated to ELP, may indicate a student has incurred a deficit while learning English. Although this situation does not preclude a student from reclassification, the LEA is obligated to ensure the student is provided ongoing academic support, and any other necessary support, designed to recuperate and remedy any such deficits before reclassification, during the four-year RFEP monitoring period or beyond, until the deficits are remedied.
  • The CDE is in the process of developing a standardized resource for this criterion. The Observation Protocol for Teachers of English Learners (OPTEL) is an observation protocol currently under development to meet the requirements of EC Section 313.3 External link opens in new window or tab..

Resources to Support Criterion 2

Criterion 3: Parent Consultation

Parental opinion and consultation:

  • This criterion remains locally determined and LEAs should continue using parental opinion and consultation per local policy to establish reclassification procedures for connecting with EL families to answer questions, discuss student performance on each criterion (Criteria 1–4), and set goals for the next school year. Parental consultation and opinion, not consent, is required per ECSection 313 (f)(3). 5 CCR Section 11303 mandates parental involvement through encouragement of the participation of parent(s) or guardian(s) in the school district's reclassification procedure, including seeking their opinion and consultation during the reclassification process, but consent is not required.
    • For students who score at Summative ELPAC Overall PL 4 or Summative Alternate ELPAC Level 3 (Fluent English Proficient), LEAs are encouraged to convene interested parties (including the student's current teachers, teachers from the previous school year, and relevant academic coordinators) to discuss the eligible student's performance and recommend goals for the next school year.
      • These consultations should lead to a reclassification discussion, held prior to decisions, that includes parents and yield collaboratively developed ideas, plans, and decisions for any change in classification as well as support to be provided during the four-year RFEP monitoring period.
    • Access issues should not be a justification for failing to connect with parents. LEAs can think strategically about connecting with parents, including through alternative means (e.g., direct phone calls; one-on-one conferences) if needed. An interpreter should be provided for the parent, when necessary.
      • LEAs can reach out to parents of all students eligible for reclassification to consult via phone, virtual school platforms, or other technology that is available to parents in order to give parents the opportunity to discuss progress and data or to voice any concerns and questions about their child's likely reclassification.
      • LEAs should focus on the information that makes the student eligible, any necessary supports for the student to succeed in rigorous, grade-level learning, and how to monitor and meet these needs via the RFEP monitoring process.
    • It can be productive to ensure that parent consultations involve everyone who knows and will be supporting the student in the coming school year: parents, decision-makers, as well as all relevant teachers and support staff, in order to address parent questions about how the school's instructional environments and supports will continue to benefit the student's academic success. Hearing parent concerns, responding to their questions, and then collaboratively identifying strategies to address those questions is an appropriate use of parent consultation time.
  • The CDE is in the process of developing a standardized resource for use when addressing this criterion. The OPTEL is an observation protocol currently under development to meet the conditions of California EC Section 313.3 External link opens in new window or tab..

Resources to Support Criterion 3

The following resources may be helpful for LEAs looking for tools to support parent consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Criterion 4: Basic Skills Relative to English Proficient Students

Comparison of the performance of the pupil in basic skills against an empirically established range of performance in basic skills based upon the performance of English proficient pupils of the same age, which demonstrates whether the pupil is sufficiently proficient in English to participate effectively in a curriculum designed for pupils of the same age whose native language is English:

  • LEAs establish the empirical range of performance in basic skills when setting the locally established criteria for reclassification and consider the overall achievement goals set for all students. In doing so, the following definitions of related terms may be helpful:
    • Performance in basic skills: The score and/or performance level resulting from a recent administration of an objective assessment of basic skills in English (e.g., Smarter Balanced assessments, district benchmarks).
    • Range of performance in basic skills: A range of scores on the assessment of basic skills in English that corresponds to a performance level or a range of scores within a performance level.
    • Students of the same age: English-proficient students who are enrolled in the same grade as the student who is being considered for reclassification.
  • Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium English language arts scores, LEA benchmarks, or other assessments identified by the LEA that measures progress in English language arts can be used to meet the requirements for Criterion 4. Progress can be measured by a set score or point span depending upon the educational research and value.
    • The selected assessment must be administered to all students, not solely to English learner students.
    • The Interim Assessment Blocks (IABs) may not be used to satisfy this criterion per EC Section 60642.7 (b).
  • If other reclassification criteria suggest that a student who scored at Summative ELPAC Overall PL 4 or Summative Alternate ELPAC Level 3 (Fluent English Proficient) has learning deficits in other areas, decision-makers are encouraged to discuss these results with those who know the student (e.g., classroom teachers, parents, instructional specialists or coaches) to identify needed services and supports, so as not to preclude a student with unique needs from reclassification or reclassify too soon.
    • Please note, deficits in academic success, although currently unrelated to ELP, may indicate a student has incurred a deficit while learning English. Although this situation does not preclude a student from reclassification, the LEA is obligated to ensure the student is provided ongoing academic support, and any other necessary support, designed to recuperate and remedy any such deficits before reclassification, during the four-year RFEP monitoring period or beyond, until the deficits are remedied.

Resources to Support Criterion 4

The following resources may be helpful for LEAs looking for tools to support the basic skills criterion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smarter Balanced Website External link opens in new window or tab.
The Smarter Balanced assessment system is designed to support instruction and give teachers better information about their students’ progress.

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) External link opens in new window or tab.
Students in grades three through eight and grade eleven will receive full-length summative tests for both English language arts/literacy and mathematics, with approximately seven to eight hours of total testing time for each student.

State Board of Education Approved Content Standards
Content standards were designed to encourage the highest achievement of every student, by defining the knowledge, concepts, and skills that all students should acquire at each grade level.

Legislation

Reclassification procedures shall utilize multiple criteria in determining whether to reclassify a pupil as proficient in English, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

  1. Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument, including, but not limited to, the English language development test that is developed or acquired pursuant to Section 60810.
  2. Teacher evaluation, including, but not limited to, a review of the pupil's curriculum mastery.
  3. Parental opinion and consultation.
  4. Comparison of the performance of the pupil in basic skills against an empirically established range of performance in basic skills based upon the performance of English proficient pupils of the same age, that demonstrates whether the pupil is sufficiently proficient in English to participate effectively in a curriculum designed for pupils of the same age whose native language is English.

EC Section 313(f) External link opens in new window or tab.
English Language Proficiency (ELP) Assessment requirements are specified in California EC sections 313, 60810, and 60812.

EC Section 60810 External link opens in new window or tab.
California law requires that the assessment for initial identification of an English learner and the summative assessment shall include, but not be limited to, an assessment of achievement of these pupils in English reading, speaking, and written skills.

 

Letters to the Field

Reclassification Guidance for 2020–21 and Statewide Testing Window Extension (June 14, 2021)
This letter provides continued reclassification guidance and notifies LEAs of adjustments to the Summative ELPAC testing schedule.

COVID-19 Reclassification Guidance for 2019–20 and Fall Administration (July 1, 2020)
This letter provides guidance regarding ELPAC testing and reclassifying students from English learner to fluent English proficient status for 2019–20.

Letter to Local Educational Agencies Regarding the Monitoring of Reclassified Students (December 20, 2019)
This letter reminds LEAs about requirements of monitoring reclassified students.

Reclassification Guidance for 2019–20 (September 2, 2019)
This letter provides guidance to LEAs regarding reclassifying students from English learner to fluent English proficient status.

Updated Letter to Local Educational Agencies Regarding Reclassification Guidance for 2018–19 (January 18, 2019)
This letter updates the guidance previously provided to local educational agencies regarding reclassifying students from English learner to fluent English proficient status.

Letter to Local Educational Agencies Regarding Interim Reclassification Guidance for 2018–19 (September 14, 2018)
This letter updates to interim guidance provided to LEAs regarding reclassifying students from English learner to fluent English proficient status.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Additional Resources

Reclassification FAQs
The above link provides frequently asked questions regarding English learner reclassification.

Surveying the Landscape of California’s English Learner Reclassification Policy External link opens in new window or tab.
This report shares results from a survey of district policies for measuring English learner progress and for removing the English learner designation, before and during school closures due to COVID-19.

English Learners Resources Web Page
The above link provides FAQs regarding English learners in California and appropriate teacher authorizations and links to websites with information about developing programs for linguistically and culturally diverse students.

Federal Program Monitoring (FPM) Instrument California Department of Education (CDE) Web Page
The California Department of Education Monitoring Tool is a web-based system, which allows LEAs to facilitate a response to state and federal requirements for program monitoring.

U.S. Department of Education English Learner Toolkit Web Page External link opens in new window or tab.
Office of English Language Acquisition’s EL Tool Kit was published in 2015 as a companion to support the January 7, 2015 Dear Colleague Letter External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) produced by the Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, and the Department of Justice, outlining legal obligations for English learner students. Some chapters of the tool kit have been updated related to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) External link opens in new window or tab. of 2015.

Questions:   Language Policy & Leadership Office | 916-319-0845
Last Reviewed: Thursday, October 20, 2022