The purpose of the current study is to develop a better understanding of reclassification decisions for English learners. Previous research has primarily viewed reclassification strictly through a policy lens without providing a framework for understanding these high-stakes decisions. However, I adopt a validity framework for reclassification decisions, specifically as a consequence of testing. The framework specifies that assessment uses, such as reclassification decisions, have consequences that need to be understood. Furthermore, I conduct analyses of both achievement data and data related to graduation and college readiness to fully understand the impact of reclassification decisions. The Duke Center for Child and Family Policy provided student-level data from North Carolina with 42,393 students. Outcomes of interest include English language arts performance, mathematics performance, graduation, ACT performance, and Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment. I adopted a coarsened exact matching technique to establish comparable groups of students and a difference in differences approach to assess the effects of reclassification on achievement outcomes. For outcomes related to college readiness and graduation, I utilize coarsened exact matching and regression techniques. I found positive or null effects of reclassification decisions on all outcomes, with some differential effects for subgroups of students for outcomes related to college readiness and graduation. I also find English learners that never reach the criteria for reclassification are limited in their access to AP courses and perform lower than the state average on ACT subtests. Limitations and areas for future research are discussed.

Degree Date

Spring 5-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name



Teaching and Learning


Doris Luft Baker

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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