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Running Head: ASSESSING PROFICIENCY 1

Assessing Proficiency Levels of English Language Learners

National University

Chelsea Johnston

ITL 604 Learners and Learning I

Week Four Assignment - Assessing Proficiency Levels of English Language Learners

Carroll Green

29 January 2019
ASSESSING PROFICIENCY 2

Assessing Proficiency Levels of English Language Learners

Introduction

“Federal and state laws require that school districts must give a state test to students

whose primary home language is not English” (California Department of Education, 2011). In

California, this test is currently called the California English Language Development Test

(CELDT) but it is in the process of transitioning to the English Language Proficiency

Assessments for California (ELPAC). These assessments are designed to identify English

learners, measure their language proficiency in English, and gauge their annual progression.

With the results from these assessments, educators can determine the level of assistance required

to aid each student in their English language proficiency.

CELDT and ELPAC

All students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, whose primary language is not

English, are required to take the CELDT/ELPAC. The state requires students to have taken their

CELDT/ELPAC assessment within 30 days of starting a California public school and must also

be given a follow-up exam annually until “they have learned the skills in English needed to

complete their schoolwork” (California Department of Education, 2011). The CELDT/ELPAC is

mandatory for all students, including English learners with a disability; appropriate

accommodations to the CELDT/ELPAC are to be made for each student. These assessments are

designed to test listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills, “based on California English

language development standards, adopted by the State Board of Education” (California

Department of Education, 2011). The CELDT/ELPAC is given by certified staff, in a controlled

environment, and without a time cap. Students are encouraged to provide their best effort and are

given the necessary tools to shine.


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Currently, the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) is in the process

of transitioning to the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC).

While the main purpose and even major characteristics of the CELDT and the ELPAC are

similar, there are clear advantages for the conversion. For one, the ELPAC is aligned with more

recent California ELD Standards. This allows for a more accurate assessment that will better aid

in each student’s emerging, expanding, and bridging process in the classroom. While both the

CELDT and the ELPAC are currently paper-pencil tests, the ELPAC has the “potential to

transition to computer-based tests” (California Department of Education, 2019). The annual

assessment window for the ELPAC will also move up in the year (July 1 – October 31 to

February 1 – May 31), which will allow for more pretest instruction time for the students.

Another change between the CELDT and the ELPAC are the grade spans in which they assess

the students. With the CELDT, there are five versions of the test and five grade spans (K-1, 2, 3-

5, 6-8, and 9-12); with the ELPAC, there are seven tests and grade spans (K, 1, 2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-10,

and 11-12). Depending on what grade span one falls in, determines the exam one will take. Since

the ELPAC has smaller groups in each span, the assessments should be tailored more to better

evaluate the students. These changes may seem minor, but the benefits of them could lead to

more accurate evaluations of the student’s English proficiency levels, create a more effective

way of grading the assessments, and could potentially help better pinpoint the area of concern for

each student.

Decisions Made Given by the Results of CELDT/ELPAC

Both the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) and the English

Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) consist of one or two tests for two

purposes. The first purpose is for the initial identification to see if a child is considered an
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English learner and their current skill level, while the second purpose is for annual progression

review. By being able to identify the students who are English learners, the students can be

offered the necessary tools to strengthen their English skills. Annually assessing these students

allows for the school to monitor their English learning progression. Educators and administrators

rely on the results of these assessments to allow them to decide what type/how much extra

assistance to provide to their students. Understanding the areas of struggle for these students can

allow for a better altered instruction course to truly benefit the needs of each student. Schools

also rely on the results from these assessments as “one of the four measures to help decide when

students may be reclassified as fluent English proficient” (California Department of Education,

2011). Other information used by schools to help decide when students may be reclassified are

results from a statewide basic skill test, teacher evaluations, and parent/guardian input.

Conclusion

“Federal and state laws require that school districts must give a state test to students

whose primary home language is not English” (California Department of Education, 2011).

California currently uses the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) but it is

in the process of transitioning to the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California

(ELPAC). While both of these assessments are designed to identify English learners, measure

their language proficiency in English, and gauge their annual progression, the ELPAC was

intended to enhance the quality of the evaluation to better benefit all English Language Learners.

The results from these assessments allow educators to determine the level of assistance required

to aid each student in their English language proficiency and thus positively impact the education

quality for all English learner students. The CELDT/ELPAC plays an important role in the

success of many students within their school career and better prepares them for their future.
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Taking the time to understand these assessments can better prepare you as an educator or as a

parent in taking the right steps towards providing students with the best education possible.
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References

California Department of Education. (2011, December 1). CELDT Information for Parents and

Guardians. Retrieved January 29, 2019, from

http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/el/resources.asp.: https://s3.us-east-1.amazonaws.com/learn-

us-east-1-prod-fleet01-xythos/5c06b1fe1ee88/4886554?response-content-

disposition=inline%3B%20filename%2A%3DUTF-

8%27%27Week%25204%2520Celdt%2520%2520Brochure.pdf&response-content-

type=application%2Fpdf&X-Amz-Algorit

California Department of Education. (2019, January 30). Comparison of the CELDT to the

ELPAC. Retrieved from California Department of Education :

https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ep/celdtelpaccompare.asp