An Exploration of the Role of English Language Proficiency in Academic Achievement
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between English language proficiency scores as measured by the ACCESS for ELLs and achievement and growth scores on the reading subtest of the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). The sample consisted of 2,006 3rd-5th grade English language learners (ELLs) from a large Midwestern school district. Results confirmed that an increase in English proficiency is associated with higher reading achievement scores. The unique variance explained by each of the domain scores (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) on the ACCESS for ELLs supports the use of a weighted composite score for decision making purposes. When considering within-year MAP growth by differing levels of proficiency, a curvilinear trend emerged. The two lowest proficiency groups demonstrated significantly lower reading growth than the two moderate and two highest proficiency groups. The greatest growth was seen by the two groups in the middle of the proficiency spectrum. Given the increased demands on measuring the achievement and progress of all students, including ELLs, and the use of standardized achievement scores for program and teacher evaluation, the results of this study suggest that a dichotomous classification of ELL/non-ELL might not accurately reflect the variability in growth at various levels of English proficiency. Implications for interpreting and using scores by ELLs are discussed.