Evaluating criteria for english learner reclassification: A causal-effects approach using a binding-score regression discontinuity design with instrumental variables

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


When English learners are "reclassified" as fluent English proficient, often their instructional setting changes, including a significant reduction in or elimination of English language development services. Depending on a child's language skills, this instructional change could hinder future development or provide needed opportunities for learning advanced material. By establishing assessment-based guidelines for reclassification, policy makers have tremendous influence on when these settings change. The author highlights this policy lever for guiding reclassification decisions and identifies a method for rigorously evaluating whether the threshold for transitioning between settings is appropriate. This method-binding-score regression discontinuity with an instrumental variable-was then implemented to obtain unbiased effects of reclassification on academic outcomes for students on the cusp of meeting reclassification criteria to provide credible policy recommendations for maintaining or shifting assessment-based reclassification thresholds. The method detailed here can be used by policy makers to evaluate their own assessment-based guidelines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-292
Number of pages26
JournalEducational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2011



  • English language learner
  • policy evaluation
  • reclassification
  • regression discontinuity design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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