English Learners Program Frequently Asked Questions


    What are the benefits of EL program participation?

    • EL staff knows each student well. They act as the student's advocate, monitoring progress and helping in communication with teachers to provide appropriate accommodations in class assignments and tests.
    • EL students can receive additional accommodations during state testing (SBAC,WCAS) such as text-to-text speech, partial translation, and/or administration by EL staff in a small group setting.   * Students who have been in U.S. schools for less than a year can opt out of taking English language arts section of the SBAC.
    • Students in grades 6-12 have the Pass/No Grade option in more than one class.


    How are students identified for EL Services?

    All students who register with a school in Washington state are asked to fill out a Home Language Survey that identifies their primary language. When a student has identified a language other than English as their first language, they will be given a state-approved language proficiency placement test within ten days of their enrollment to determine qualification of EL program. Upon completion of the screener, parents or guardians are notified in writing whether or not their student qualifies for EL services.


    How are EL students assessed?

    The English Language Proficiency Test for the 21st Century, or ELPA21, is an assessment that measures English Learners' command and mastery of the rigorous academic standards in the domains of reading, writing, listening and speaking.


    How do students qualify for EL services?

    Students must meet eligibility requirements to qualify for EL services. Students qualify for EL services until they reach a high level of English skills, not only in speaking and listening, but also in reading and writing.  Eligibility is determined by the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA21).  There are three levels of English language development determined by the ELPA:


    • Emerging:  Your student will be eligible for EL services.
    • Progressing:  Your student will be eligible for EL services.
    • Proficient:  Your student will not be eligible for EL services, but will qualify for extra academic support if needed for two years after transitioning from active EL services.


    What is the ELPA21 like?


    How long do students stay in EL services?

    Students that qualify for EL services take an annual assessment of their English skills. They continue to qualify for EL services until they reach a high level of English proficiency. The length of time to gain proficiency is unique to each child.


    How often are students assessed?

    All EL students take the ELPA21 assessment each February or March.  Scores are sent home from the district office after testing results are received from OSPI.


    What are the standards for English learners?

    English learners are taught and assessed on their grade level Common Core State Standards in Language Arts, Math, Science, and other content areas.  There are also English Language Proficiency Standards that are used by EL specialists and other teachers to understand what students at different levels of English proficiency should be able to do.