Los Angeles Unified profits by keeping kids in English Learner status long after they’ve met state and local standards for fluency, argues Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute in the LA Daily News. The district gets more money and higher test scores.
A Bureau of State Audits report found 62 percent of LA’s English Learners met criteria for fluency but weren’t reclassified.
The state Legislative Analyst’s Office has found that districts have a financial incentive for keeping students classified as English learners because federal and state programs distribute funds based on the number of students eligible for those programs.
. . . NCLB requires subgroups such as English learners to make annual progress toward grade-level proficiency in math and English language arts. Keeping English-fluent students in the English-learner category increases the chances that schools will meet federal goals.
Less than 40 percent of English Learners are reclassified as fluent after 10 years in California schools, estimates the state Education Department.
In addition to changing the perverse incentives, Izumi suggests giving parents a “voucher that would allow them and their children to exit immediately from public schools in Los Angeles and elsewhere that fail to transition students to English fluency quickly.”