Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo


The Observation Protocol for Teachers of English Learners (OPTEL) is an observation protocol designed to meet the requirements of Assembly Bill 1808.

The OPTEL is an observation protocol designed to meet the requirements of California Assembly Bill 1808 External link opens in new window or tab. (Ting et al.) Chapter 32, Statutes of 2018, amending 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 exit criteria to meet Title III, Part A, Section 3111(b)(2)(A) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

A 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 (IEP)
      • 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.

To also be used:

  • By teachers 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 enroll students in teacher preparation programs.

For further information on the purposes and characteristics of the OPTEL, please review the OPTEL Information Session (PDF).

OPTEL Advisory Committee

The California Department of Education (CDE), in collaboration with WestEd, consults with the OPTEL advisory committee (OAC). The OAC, comprised of 28 educators and English Language Development (ELD) experts from across California, includes current content area teachers at different grade levels, English language development 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 the decision to halt the field test and validation study. Senate Bill 820, signed by the Governor on September 18, 2020, extended the timeline to complete the field test and validation study to December 31, 2022.

The OPTEL will be brought before the State Board of Education (SBE) in fall of 2022 to be considered for approval as the statewide standardized protocol for Criterion 2 (teacher evaluation of English learner 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

July‒December 2021: Recruitment/training for field test

Spring 2022 (January–April): Spring field test

May 2022: Interim validation study executive summary report

June 2022: OAC Meeting #3 (in-person) to review comprehensive report summarizing participating teacher feedback from the 2022 field testing, a summary of OAC discussion, and recommended edits to the OPTEL

July 2022: Final validation study executive summary report

September 2022: Present OPTEL tool to SBE for approval

December 2022: OPTEL final 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: Tuesday, August 3, 2021