South Pasadena Unified School District

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English Learner Services

English Learners

The objective for our English Learner (EL) students is that they will develop proficiency in English as rapidly and effectively possible and they will keep up academically with their English Only peers.  We provide English Language Development (Language Acquisition) instruction and access to the District's challenging core curriculum to all English Language Learners

SPUSD has a dual obligation to our EL students.  First, to provide meaningful access to grade-level academic content via appropriate instruction and second, to develop academic English language proficiency.

How are students identified as English Learners? 

California requires all parents to complete a Home Language Survey when registering children for school. The survey asks:

  1. What language did this student learn when first beginning to talk?
  2. What language do you use most frequently to speak to this student?
  3. What language does this student most frequently use at home?
  4. What language do adults speak at home most often?

If the answer to the first three questions on the survey is a language other than English, the child must take the English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC).  The results of the ELPAC are used to determine English language proficiency.   By law, a parent cannot opt their child out of this testing. 

What is the ELPAC?

The ELPAC is California’s new assessment that is used to determine the English language proficiency (ELP) of students whose primary language is other than English. The ELPAC is replacing the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) and is aligned with the 2012 California English Language Development Standards. The ELPAC assesses four domains: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.


INITIAL ASSESSMENT: The ELPAC Initial Assessment is used to identify students as being either an English learner (EL) or fluent in English. The Initial Assessment is administered only once during a student’s time in the California public school system, based on the results of the home language survey.

The Introduction to the Initial ELPAC for Parents Video provides information about the Initial ELPAC including its purpose, an explanation of who takes the test, and a description of how parents and guardians will be notified of their child’s results. This video is recommended for parents and guardians who want to learn more about the Initial ELPAC.

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: The ELPAC Summative Assessment is given only to students who have previously been identified as an EL based upon the Initial Assessment results, in order to measure how well they are progressing with English development in each of the four domains. The results are used as one of four criteria to determine if the student is ready to be reclassified as fluent English proficient, to help inform proper educational placement, and to report progress.

How is the ELPAC administered?

Both the ELPAC Summative and Initial Assessments are paper-pencil tests administered in seven grade spans: K, 1, 2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–10, and 11–12. In kindergarten and grade 1, all domains are administered individually. In grades 2–12, the test is administered in groups exclusive of speaking, which is assessed one-on-one. Testing times will vary depending upon the grade level, domain, and individual student.

Summative Score Report Video

The Summative ELPAC Student Score Report Video shows elements of the student score report along with explanations of the information on the report. This video is recommended for parents and guardians, as well as teachers and educators who want to learn more about how to understand the Summative ELPAC Student Score Report.

More information about the ELPAC may be found by accessing the following link:

What services are available to help students learning English as a Second language? 

English Language Development (ELD) is a specific method of teaching in English to build vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency in the English language. Classroom teachers work with groups of students who have limited English language proficiency as appropriate to each child’s level of proficiency. 

Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) is a specific method of teaching grade-level content (i.e. social studies, science, math, etc.) that helps English as second language learners to master the California content Standards. 

All classroom teachers in SPUSD are required to have special training and to practice SDAIE teaching strategies with English learners in their regular education classes.  This training includes research-based information about the needs of their students learning English as a second language, as well as strategies to assist students in understand the content they are learning in academic coursework.

English Learners Locker