English Language AssesementTop of Page

State and federal laws require that all students whose primary language is other than English be assessed for English language proficiency. The legal basis for requiring English proficiency testing is that all students have the right to an equal and appropriate education, and any English language limitations (left unidentified and/or unaddressed) could preclude a student from accessing that right.

The English Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) is the state’s designated test of English language proficiency. It is administered each year as an initial assessment (IA) to newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English, as indicated on a Home Language Survey (HLS), and as an annual assessment (AA) to students who have been identified previously as English learners.

State law (EC sections 313 and 60810) and federal law (Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA]) require that LEAs administer a state test of English language proficiency and develop AMAOs for:

  1. newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English as an IA, and
  2. students who are English learners as an AA. For California’s public school students, this test is the ELPAC.

The ELPAC has three purposes:

  1. To identify students who are limited English proficient (LEP)
  2. To determine the level of English language proficiency of LEP students
  3. To assess the progress of LEP students in acquiring the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English

For all students in TK–12, upon first enrollment in a California public school, the Imperial Unified School District uses a standardized procedure to determine a student’s primary language. This procedure begins with a home language survey (HLS), which is completed by the parents or guardians at the time the student is first enrolled.

If a language other than English is indicated on any of the first three questions, the student will be tested with the ELPAC.

Once the primary language is determined for a student, it does not need to be redetermined unless the results are disputed by a parent or guardian. If the HLS is completed in error, the parent or guardian may make a request to change it. However, once a student is identified as either IFEP or English learner, changing the HLS will not change the student’s identification. At this point, the student’s English learner status will change only when reclassification criteria are met.

Parents cannot “opt out” of the assessment because English language proficiency assessment is both a federal (NCLB Title I, section 1111[b][7] and Title III, 2002) and state requirement (Education Code 313).