South Pasadena Unified School District

Skip to main content

English Learner Services

English Learners

The objective for our English Learner (EL) students is that they will develop proficiency in English rapidly and effectively as 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.


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.

How are results from the CELDT reported and used? 

One of five levels of English proficiency is reported from the results of the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) in the areas of listening/speaking, reading, and writing:

  • Beginning
  • Early Intermediate
  • Intermediate
  • Early Advanced, and
  • Advanced

Children are tested on the CELDT upon entering SPUSD. Parents are given the results of this test within 30 days of their receipt from the scoring service. 

The CELDT as well as other measures (grades observations, classroom work samples, and standardized tests, etc.) are used to determine the child’s class placement. Teachers, parents, and administrators work together in making important educational program decisions. 

How schools decide eligibility for services? 

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 California English Language Development Test (CELDT) as well as other measures to determine the child’s English proficiency level. By law, a parent cannot opt their child out of this testing. 

What does the CELDT Measure? 

Only trained examiners administer the CELDT to test listening and speaking in grades K-1. In grades 2 through 12, the test additionally evaluates reading and writing. The CELDT measures mastery of the California English Language Development standards that may be found at this website:


State and federal law require that local educational agencies administer a state test of English language proficiency (ELP) to eligible students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The California Department of Education (CDE) and SPUSD is transitioning from the CELDT to the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California, ELPAC, as the state ELP assessment by 2018. The ELPAC will be aligned with the 2012 California English Language Development Standards. It will be comprised of two separate ELP assessments: one for the initial identification of students as English learners (ELs), and a second for the annual summative assessment to measure a student’s progress in learning English and to identify the student's level of ELP.  All ELs will be given the ELPAC annual summative assessment in the Spring of 2018 to assess English language proficiency and individual progress.  More information about the ELPAC may be found by accessing the following links:

English Learners Locker