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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-72
September 1, 2020
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Announces Major Step to Assess English Language Proficiency During Distance Learning

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent Tony Thurmond announced this week that the assessment used to determine a student’s English proficiency has successfully transitioned online, giving educators a powerful tool to reach and support English learners while school campuses are closed.

The Initial English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) has moved from a paper-pencil test to an online computer-based test and, as a result, produced real-time results. The online test became available to school districts and charter schools on August 20.

The Initial ELPAC serves as the state’s English language proficiency assessment to identify students as English learners. The test is administered to all students whose primary or home language is not English.

“Not only does computer-based testing provide timely results, it’s another valuable tool for educators in this new era of distance learning,” Thurmond said. “Our English learners are among those most at risk of falling behind, and we need the ability to quickly assess our students in order for our educators to provide the best support possible.”

 Students who complete the new computer-based Initial ELPAC will be scored on the same day. For the first time, schools will immediately receive electronic Initial ELPAC Student Score Reports through the California Assessment System in the top four non-English languages for California, which include Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin or Cantonese (Traditional Chinese), and Filipino.

The state’s testing contractor, ETS, will also provide the California Department of Education (CDE) a student’s English Learner Acquisition Status (ELAS) which will be made available quickly through the California Longitudinal Pupil Assessment Data System (CALPADS). This feature allows the school administrator immediate information to provide services to a student determined to be an English learner.

The new online Initial ELPAC includes the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, all delivered on a computer for grades 3-12. Writing for grades K-2 will remain on paper. The online test is available the entire year.

On the day of its launch, six local educational agencies (LEAs) successfully participated in the online Initial ELPAC. Currently, LEAs administer the test either in-person or through co-located test administrations following the state’s social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDE is currently working with ETS on solutions for additional remote administration options to ensure student, teacher and parent safety while allowing students to continue to show progress.

More information on the Initial ELPAC can be found on the CDE Initial ELPAC web page.

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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