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Information about the Observation Protocol for Teachers of English Learners (OPTEL), a resource to support educators in monitoring and evaluating language use of English learner (EL) students.

The OPTEL is an observation protocol designed to support educators in monitoring and evaluating academic language use of EL students, per the requirements of California Education Code (EC) Section 313.3 External link opens in new window or tab.. Successful implementation of the OPTEL will help move California closer to statewide standardization of reclassification criteria required per Title III, Part A, Section 3111(b)(2)(A) of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

A field test and validation study will be conducted to ensure the protocol appropriately:

  • Assesses the intended target language constructs
  • Demonstrates a meaningful relationship to the performance levels for the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)
  • Assesses classroom language use
  • Reflects student progress toward attaining targeted constructs

OPTEL General Information

The design of the OPTEL ensures:

  • Ease of use by all (content area and specialized) teachers at all grade levels.
    • Teachers use the OPTEL to:
      • Provide evidence that contributes to reclassification decisions for all English learners, including those with Individualized Education Plans
      • Evaluate student use of English while engaging in academic content learning, including interactive academic language use with peers
      • Assess language practices across a range of proficiency levels
  • Alignment with the English language development standards and the ELPAC performance levels.

The OPTEL can also be used:

  • As a formative assessment tool in order to support student progress toward English proficiency
  • In consultation with parents of English learners regarding their progress toward proficiency
  • By institutions of higher education that prepare educators in teacher preparation programs

OPTEL Advisory Committee

The California Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with the contractor, consults with the OPTEL advisory committee (OAC). The OAC, comprised of educators and English Language Development (ELD) experts from across California, includes current content area teachers at different grade levels, ELD teachers, bilingual teachers, special education teachers, and experts with demonstrated experience in observing and documenting pupil academic language practices as well as in developing and administering assessments for English learners.

OPTEL Timeline

On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The subsequent school closures resulted in considerable delay of the field test and validation study. California Assembly Bill 181, signed by the Governor on June 30, 2022, extended the timeline to complete the field test and validation study to December 31, 2023.

The OPTEL will be brought before the State Board of Education (SBE) in fall 2023 to be considered for approval as the statewide standardized protocol for Criterion 2 (teacher evaluation of EL students) and Criterion 3 (parent opinion and consultation) for the purpose of reclassification.

December 2018: Contract to co-develop, pilot, and validate an observation protocol to support reclassification decisions for English learner reclassification Criteria 2–3

February 2020: Field test activities began

March 2020: Field test halted due to COVID-19 school closures

June 2020: Project completion date extended to December 2022 and field test postponed until 2021–2022 school year

January 2022: Field test activities postponed until 2022–2023 school year due to circumstances caused by COVID-19 school closures

June 2022: Project completion date extended to December 2023

July‒December 2022: Recruitment/training for field test

Spring 2023 (January–April): Spring field test

May 2023: OAC Meeting (virtual) to review initial analytic data set from field testing, a summary of OAC discussion, and recommended edits to the OPTEL

October 2023: Update for SBE in information memorandum that includes validation study and draft OPTEL tool

November 2023: Anticipate presenting the final analytic data set, validation study report, and draft OPTEL tool to the SBE with recommendation for approval as the statewide standardized protocol for Criterion 2 (teacher evaluation of EL students) and Criterion 3 (parent opinion and consultation) for the purpose of reclassification

December 2023: Final OPTEL implementation guidance documents, parent informational tools, and resources completed

OPTEL Updates

Information that provides an update on the development of the OPTEL.

Questions:   Language Policy & Leadership Office | 916-319-0845
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, November 15, 2023
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