Participation in ELP Assessments

Federal legislation requires that states and districts annually measure the English language proficiency of all English learners in grades K-12 in four areas: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. English learners with disabilities must participate in the general English language proficiency (ELP) assessment with or without accommodations, or if they have significant cognitive disabilities, they may take an alternate ELP assessment.

ELP assessment participation decisions for English learners with disabilities are made by the students’ Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams. These teams should include an expert in English language development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Schools must include all K-12 public-school students who have been identified as needing language development services. English learners are often identified through a two-step process involving a home-language questionnaire filled out by a child’s parents or guardians, followed by a screening or placement assessment. English learners with disabilities are included in the group that takes state ELP assessments. They can participate in the ELP assessment in one of three ways:

  • In the regular ELP assessment with accommodations 
  • In the regular ELP assessment without accommodations 
  • In an alternate assessment aligned to ELP standards

States will need to carefully consider the constructs that the domains of their ELP assessments are designed to measure, and also consider how their English learners with disabilities demonstrate skills in each area during classroom instruction. Decision makers must be willing to recognize that a skill may have to be accommodated for some students. For example, taking information in from sign language may need to be considered listening for those who cannot hear. One difficulty in making these decisions is to determine how far along a continuum a skill can be considered the same when a disability is considered. For example, can responding by means of sign language be considered "spoken language" for those students who have been deaf since birth? Policy decisions similar to this example require much discussion among personnel responsible for assessment, curriculum, special education, and English language development services. 

No. All English learners must take either the regular state ELP assessment, with or without accommodations, or an alternate ELP assessment.

English learners with disabilities should continue to be identified as English learners until they achieve proficiency in English. Individual states vary in how they determine English proficiency for English learners.