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Survey, Assessments, Programs, & Reclassification

This web page provides parents with information and resources about the Home Language Survey, English Language Proficiency Assessments for California, programs for English learners, and reclassification.

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There is a multi-step process to determine and assess a student’s current English proficiency level and monitor their progress in learning English over time across subject areas through the use of the Home Language Survey (HLS) and the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC). This process helps schools and teachers provide appropriate instructional programs and services to students. School districts, county offices of education and charter schools (also known as local educational agencies [LEAs]) are required by state and federal laws to provide adequate language programs and services to help support students in their English language development (ELD) and academic achievement. State law also provides identification criteria and criteria for English learner (EL) students to exit programs upon attaining English proficiency and academic achievement.

The graphic below is a general illustration of the multi-step process to determine and assess English language proficiency, identify appropriate programs and services, and reclassify an EL student from EL to reclassified fluent English proficient (RFEP) status.

A detailed description is provided below the image.

Description of the graphic: a series of boxes demonstrating the steps to determining and assessing a student's current English proficiency level. The first box is the Home Language Survey. Then there is an arrow pointing to a box labeled Assessments. After Assessments, there are two arrows; one pointing to a box labeled English learner programs and services provided to student and a second arrow pointing to a box labeled No English learner programs and services necessary. From the box labeled English learner programs and services provided to student is an arrow pointing to a box labeled Reclassification. From Reclassification there is an arrow to the box labeled No English learner programs and services necessary. The following sections go into more detail about each step of the graphic illustration.

Home Language Survey (HLS)

When a child first enrolls in a California public school, the school will provide a questionnaire called the HLS for parents to complete. It can be reviewed on the English Learner Forms web page. The questions on the HLS are recommended by the state and are consistent with the questions provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Generally, the HLS consists of four questions about the language spoken when the student first began to speak as well as the language (or languages) most frequently used at home. An HLS must be completed for every new student who enrolls for the first time into a California public school regardless of the language(s) that are spoken at home.

The responses to the HLS will assist the school in determining if a student's English proficiency should be assessed using the ELPAC. If a language other than English is indicated on any of the first three questions, the student will be assessed.

Screening and assessing English language proficiency is a much-needed part of the school’s responsibility to meet legal requirements and its obligations to English learners. If parents have questions about the HLS or the use of the responses on the HLS, they are encouraged to ask their child’s school directly.

Assessment

The school assesses students for whom a language other than English is indicated on the HLS, additional information can be found on the ELPAC web page. It is also possible for a student to be provided with the ELPAC based on further evidence, such as a teacher’s determination through observation and classroom assessment that demonstrates a student may have a language other than English. The ELPAC is used to assess the student’s English language proficiency in transitional kindergarten through grade twelve. The results of the ELPAC helps schools understand the needs of their students and determine the appropriate language instructional support and services to provide to their students.

The ELPAC consists of two parts:

  • Part 1: The Initial ELPAC is given to students whose HLS indicated a primary language other than English and who have never been previously classified as English learners. The Initial ELPAC is completed within the first 30 days of when students enroll in a public school. The purpose of the Initial ELPAC is to determine a student’s English proficiency level.

    Parents will receive an Initial ELPAC Score Report that describes the three possible Initial ELPAC performance levels, the student’s overall score, and their Initial ELPAC performance level. A sample of a student score report is available on the ELPAC Sample Student Score Reports (SSRs) External link opens in new window or tab. web page. For information about the three performance level descriptors (PLDs), reference the Initial ELPAC General PLDs web page.
  • Part 2: The Summative ELPAC is an annual assessment given to students who are classified as English learners through the Initial ELPAC. The Summative ELPAC is administered every spring between February and May until the EL student is reclassified. (See Reclassification section below for more information.) The purpose of the Summative ELPAC is to determine the English language proficiency level of an EL student, assess the student’s progress in acquiring English skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), and support decisions for reclassifying a student to the RFEP status, when appropriate.

    Parents will receive a Summative ELPAC Score Report that describes the four possible Summative ELPAC performance levels, the student’s scores (e.g., overall, oral language, and written language) and their Summative ELPAC performance level. A sample of a student score report is available on the ELPAC Sample Student Score Reports (SSRs) External link opens in new window or tab. web page. For information about the four performance levels, reference the Summative ELPAC General PLDs web page.

The following links provide additional information for parents to learn more about the ELPAC, California ELD Standards, and multilingual programs:

ELPAC Resources for Parents
The above link provides resources for parents to learn more about the ELPAC, including general information translated in several languages, practice tests, informational videos, and more.

Parent/Guardian Resources External link opens in new window or tab.
This resources web page provides information to help parent/guardian understand their student’s ELPAC scores and reports, access practice and training tests, and links to remote testing resources available in English and Spanish.

Alternate ELPAC
The above link includes information and resources about the California’s statewide alternate assessment for English language proficiency for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

English Parent/Guardian ELD Overview Brochures External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
Spanish Parent/Guardian ELD Overview Brochures External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF)
These brochures provides an overview of the three levels in the “ELD Proficiency Level Continuum,” ways to help student make progress in learning English, expectations of English learners and their teachers, and information about the CA ELD Standards.

Parent’s Toolkit to Multilingual Education
This toolkit includes PowerPoint presentations and printable parent guides in English and Spanish for parents about the benefits of multilingual education, multilingual programs, and how to become involved in their children’s education.

Programs for English Learners

LEAs are required to implement a comprehensive and effective ELD program to assist EL students in overcoming language barriers within a reasonable amount of time. LEAs must design and implement academic instruction for EL students in grades TK–12 to ensure that EL students meet the LEA’s content and performance standards for their respective grade levels within a reasonable amount of time. If it is determined that the student is an English learner and needs language support based on their Initial ELPAC score, the LEAs are required to offer, at a minimum, a structured English immersion program option (Education Code [EC] Section 305[a][2]). LEAs may also offer other types of language acquisition programs.

Parents of an English learner identified for participation or participating in such a program should receive information and notification at beginning of the school year (California Code of Regulations [5 CCR] Section 11310). Parents of a child identified as an English learner or initially fluent-English proficient student, upon entering a California school for the first time, should receive an initial notification that includes information about the student’s assessment results, reclassification criteria, graduation rate for English learners, choosing a language acquisition program, and the language acquisition programs offered at the school. Parents of a child with a continued English learner status should receive an annual notification about the student’s assessment results, academic achievement results, reclassification criteria, and the language programs offered at the school. Sample notifications that parents would receive from an LEA regarding their child’s EL status are available on the Parent Notification web page.

Reclassification

Once an EL student achieves proficiency in English, the EL student may change their EL status to RFEP status through the reclassification process. The reclassification process recognizes EL students’ well-developed abilities to read, write, speak, comprehend, and articulate in English across academic subject areas. It also acknowledges EL students’ attainment of an English proficiency level that allows for full engagement in grade-level academic tasks and activities in a variety of content areas without the need for specialized ELD instruction. Students continue to learn and apply a range of high-level English language skills in a wide variety of contexts. The reclassification process ensures that EL students meet the criteria established in statute and local policies to exit an EL program and advance to the next stage in their educational path.

EC Section 313(f) lists the four criteria for reclassification. LEAs are required to use the following four criteria to establish their own policies and procedures for determining whether or not an EL student has sufficient English proficiency to be reclassified as a fluent English speaker.

  • Criterion 1: Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument, including, but not limited to, the ELPAC; 
  • Criterion 2: Teacher evaluation, including, but not limited to, a review of the student’s curriculum mastery; 
  • Criterion 3: Parent opinion and consultation; and
  • Criterion 4: Comparison of student performance in basic skills against an empirically established range of performance in basic skills based upon the performance of English proficient students of the same age.

For Criterion 3, LEAs are to inquire and consult with parents per local policy to establish reclassification policies and procedures. In addition, parents are to be consulted and included as part of decision-making throughout the reclassification process, but consent is not required. Specifically, 5 CCR Section 11303 mandates parental involvement through:

  • Notice to parent(s) or guardian(s) of language reclassification and placement, including a description of the reclassification process and the parent's opportunity to participate; and
  • Encouragement of the participation of parent(s) or guardian(s) in the school district's reclassification procedure, including seeking their opinion and consultation during the reclassification process.

Parents are encouraged to participate in the reclassification process. This is an opportunity for parents to share their opinion and feedback regarding their child’s progress. Parents may voice any concerns and questions about their child’s likely reclassification. It also provides a space for LEAs and parents to work collaboratively in identifying strategies to address those questions and concerns. LEAs may use phone, school platforms, or other technology available to the parent to discuss the data and information suggesting reclassification is the appropriate next step.

Once a student changes from the EL status to RFEP status, they have achieved the level of English proficiency that may only require light language support, as needed. The LEA’s obligation to EL students does not end once a student has been reclassified. By law, LEAs are required to monitor RFEP students for at least four years to ensure that they are continuing to progress and meet the same academic achievement goals set for all students (20 United States Code Section 6841(a)(4)(5); 5 CCR Section 11304). It is recommended that LEAs establish comprehensive plans that include benchmarks for expected growth in acquiring academic content knowledge during the academic year and appropriate steps to assist RFEP students who are not adequately progressing toward those goals.

Additional information regarding reclassification are available below:

Reclassification
The Reclassification web page provides more detailed information on the reclassification criteria and monitoring, legislation, establishing criteria, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and other resources. 

Reclassification FAQs
The above link is to FAQs regarding reclassification.

EL Reclassification Data
This link allows parents to access downloadable data files of students reclassified from EL status to RFEP status for each school year since 2011–12.

Questions:   Language Policy and Leadership Office | 916-319-0845
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, March 23, 2022
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