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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 Language 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:
- Newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English as an IA, and
- Students who are English learners as an AA. For California’s public school students, this test is the ELPAC.
The Initial ELPAC has one purpose:
- To identify students who are ELs or are initial fluent English proficient (IFEP)
The Summative ELPAC has two purposes:
- To determine the level of ELP of EL students
- To assess the progress of EL students in acquiring the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English
All students in kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12), ages three through twenty-one, whose primary language is a language other than English must take the lnitial ELPAC to determine whether they are ELs. This must be done within 30 calendar days after they are first enrolled in a California public school or 60 calendar days prior to instruction, but not before July 1, per ELPAC regulations. The Summative ELPAC must be given annually to students identified as ELs until they are reclassified to fluent English proficient (RFEP).
For all students in K–12, upon first enrollment in a California public school, the LEA uses a standardized procedure to determine a student’s primary language. This procedure begins with a home language survey (HLS), which is completed once by the parent or guardian at the time the student is initially enrolled in a California public school. The HLS should not be readministered every year nor readministered if a student enrolls in a new LEA.
If the HLS is completed in error, the parent or guardian may make a request to change it prior to the assessment. However, once a student is identified as an EL on the basis of the results of the Initial ELPAC, and the student has been administered the Summative ELPAC, changing the HLS will not change the student’s identification.
- If a language other than English is indicated on any of the first three questions, the student should be tested with the Initial ELPAC.
- If a language other than English is indicated on the fourth question, the student may be tested at the LEA’s discretion.