A 2007 study by the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) shows that EL students who are reclassified fluent English proficient (RFEP), and students who speak another primary language but were found to be “initially fluent English proficient” (IFEP) do better on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) than English-only and English learner students.
Students who are designated as RFEP when they take the exit exam have achieved that designation based partly on their having already demonstrated at least partial mastery of the state content standards that are covered on the exam. (Otherwise, they would still be considered English learners.) English-only students need not have demonstrated similar levels of achievement prior to taking the CAHSEE. Therefore, the relative success of RFEP students is not entirely surprising.
These results may also suggest that some knowledge of two languages--as IFEP and RFEP students would have--leads to better performance on the exit exam. However, data on the socioeconomic status of students in each group, a powerful predictor of test performance, are not available.
The chart below displays the CAHSEE passage rates of 10th graders in 2007, broken down by English-fluency category. The number of test-takers in each category on the English portion are as follows. (The numbers of test-takers on the math portion were very similar.)
- RFEP – 77,692
- IFEP – 40,547
- English only – 276,244
- English learner – 79,366