Examining Current and Proposed Home Language Surveys in California
This study addresses questions of how best to determine which newly registering students are English learners and, therefore, need specialized supports to meaningfully participate in English-dominant school settings. Data are from two surveys used to identify potential English learners—the home language survey currently used in California ("current survey") and a newly developed home language survey ("proposed survey"). They were taken by parents of California students who were newly registering for kindergarten through grade 6 in 15 schools for the 2015/16 school year.
The study compares which students were identified as potential English learners by their parents’ or guardians’ responses on the current survey and on the proposed survey. The study also compares which students might be identified as potential multilingual students based on their parents’ or guardians’ responses to the questions in each survey. The study also calculated the percentage of potential English learners identified by each survey who were subsequently classified as English learners thrpough the subsequent adminisration of the California English Language Development Test (CELDT).
Finding: Of the students identified as potential English learners by the current home language survey, 90 percent were then classified as English learners by their initial CELDT scores; of the students identified as potential English learners by the proposed home language survey, 89 percent were then classified as English learners by their initial CELDT scores. The proposed survey, identified 14 percent more students as potential English learners than did the current home language survey. The proposed home language survey identified nearly 40 percent of the students as potential multilingual learners (fluent in both English and one or more other languages), compared to 6 percent of the students so identified by the current home language survey.