The window into proficiency

21 scoring systems

ELPA21 scores are important for students, parents/guardians, and educators. ELPA21 uses innovative approaches to compute scores and to classify students into proficiency categories.

Serving educators

Students’ ELPA21 results serve multiple purposes:

  • Inform initial program eligibility decisions
  • provide a means to monitor progress towards attaining English language proficiency over time
  • determine eligibility for program exit
  • inform classroom instruction for ELs
  • identify resource needs for both students and teachers
  • provide evidence of program effectiveness

Once proficient, ELs will have acquired the content-specific English language practices that enable them to produce, interpret, collaborate on, and succeed in content-related and grade-appropriate academic tasks.

Domain scores

For each student, numeric scale scores are computed in each of four domains:

  • Listening
  • Reading
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Ranges of the scale scores are grouped into five performance levels that describe English language skills within the domain: (1) Beginning, (2) Early Intermediate, (3) Intermediate, (4) Early Advanced. The scale score ranges defining each level were determined through a process involving educator judgments about how the performance levels relate to expected performance on the test items (“standard setting”). Summaries of the English language skills associated with each domain performance level (Achievement Level Descriptors, or ALDs) were developed based on analyses of the items administered in the domain. ALDs provide guidance for educators when making instructional decisions for individuals and groups of students.

Cross-domain composite scores

Two cross-domain composite scores are computed:

  • A comprehension score based on students’ combined performance in the Listening and Reading domains
  • An overall score based on students’ combined performance in all four domains

ELPA21 composite scores are summary indicators of English language performance are may be used to evaluate annual progress in state accountability systems and for program evaluation. Some students may be exempted from one or more domains due to disability (and based on rules determined by the state). For such students, cross-domain composite scores are computed from the relevant domains that were assessed.

Overall proficiency classification

An overall proficiency classification is made on the basis of a student’s performance level profile across the four domains. For the Summative test, a Student is considered Proficient if all non-exempt domains are Level 4 or Level 5, Progressing if at least one domain is lower than Level 4 and at least one domain is higher than Level 2, and Emerging if all non-exempt domains are Level 1 or Level 2. For the ELPA21 Screener, some states also consider some profiles with domains in Levels 3 through 5 as Proficient. A classification of Proficient signifies that a student has demonstrated (in all non-exempt domains) the English language skills needed to produce, interpret, collaborate on, and succeed in content-related and grade-appropriate academic tasks.

Score reports

Individual student reports can be adapted to the needs of individual states. Typically, these reports include domain and composite scale scores (and the standard errors of measurement for these scores), domain performance levels (and their corresponding Achievement Level Descriptors), and the overall proficiency determination.