Alternate ELPAC FAQs

About the Alternate English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC)

What is the purpose of the Alternate ELPAC?

State law (California Education Code section 313 external-icon) and federal laws (Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act) require that local educational agencies (LEAs) administer a state test of English language proficiency (ELP) to

  • newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English, as an initial assessment, and
  • students who are English learners (ELs), as an annual summative assessment.

The Alternate ELPAC is the state ELP assessment for California public school students with the most significant cognitive disabilities whose individualized education program (IEP) indicates the use of an alternate assessment.

The Alternate ELPAC replaces all locally determined alternate ELP assessments and, for the first time, provides a consistent, standardized measurement of ELP across the state for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

The purpose of the Alternate ELPAC is twofold:

  • The Initial Alternate ELPAC provides information to determine a student's initial classification as an EL or as initial fluent English proficient. The annual testing window for the Initial Alternate ELPAC will be from July 1 through June 30 beginning in 2021.
  • The Summative Alternate ELPAC provides information on annual student progress toward ELP and supports decisions on student reclassification as fluent English proficient. The annual testing window for the Summative Alternate ELPAC will be from February 1 through May 31 following the operational field test window.

Can parents/guardians opt their child out of the Alternate ELPAC?

No. Parents/Guardians cannot opt their child out of the Alternate ELPAC. State law (California Education Code section 313 external-icon) and federal law (Titles I and Ill of the Every Student Succeeds Act) require that all students whose primary language is a language other than English be assessed for ELP. The legal basis for requiring ELP testing is that all students have the right to an equal and appropriate education, and any English language limitations left unidentified or unaddressed could preclude a student from accessing that right.

What does the Alternate ELPAC measure?

The Alternate ELPAC is aligned to the 2012 California English Language Development (ELD) Standards external-icon via ELD Connectors. The ELD Connectors are reduced in depth, breadth, and complexity as appropriate for the population.

To ensure ELs with the most significant cognitive disabilities can fully access and participate in the Alternate ELPAC, the four domains of Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing are assessed via students' individually preferred receptive(Listening and Reading) and expressive (Speaking and Writing) communication modes:

  • Receptive test items require the student to demonstrate comprehension of a stimulus by selecting a response from two or three options. The student is not required to generate any language. Students are allowed to respond using their preferred individual communication mode.
  • Expressive test items require the student to communicate understandings and ideas related to the stimulus using the student's individually preferred expressive mode of communication. Note, picture cards are included in the test delivery system for students to select responses.

Which students are required to take the Alternate ELPAC?

Students in kindergarten through grade twelve, up to age twenty-two, with the most significant cognitive disabilities and whose primary language is a language other than English, as determined by a home language survey, must take the Initial Alternate ELPAC.

Beginning with the 2020–21 school year:

  • If a student fits the preceding description and their ELP has not been assessed, that student must take the Initial Alternate ELPAC to determine initial classification.
  • If a student is classified as an EL after taking the Initial Alternate ELPAC, that student would take the Summative Alternate ELPAC annually until the reclassification criteria are met.

Which students are required to take the Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

The Alternate ELPAC operational field test will meet the requirement of annually assessing a student's ELP in 2020–21. Students who have been classified as having the most significant cognitive disabilities, as determined by their IEP team, and are also an EL are required to take the Alternate ELPAC operational field test. Students will continue to be assessed annually on the Summative Alternate ELPAC until they are reclassified as fluent English proficient by the LEA.

Should students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities, as determined by their IEP, and require initial identification take the Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

No. For the 2020–21 academic year only, students with the most significant cognitive disabilities as determined by their IEP team and whose primary language is other than English, as determined by a home language survey, and who have not been previously classified as an EL, must take the regular Initial ELPAC and specify which domains will be administered using a district's locally-determined alternate assessments prior to the start of the Alternate ELPAC operational field test. Beginning on July 1, 2021, students will take the Initial Alternate ELPAC, and locally-determined alternate assessments will no longer be allowable for identification.

Do we test students in year one of a two-year kindergarten program (frequently referred to as "transitional-kindergarten")?

Yes. Students in year one of a two-year kindergarten program will take the kindergarten test. All students with severe cognitive disabilities enrolled in the LEA in year one of a two-year kindergarten program, whose primary language is a language other than English, as determined by a home language survey, must be administered the Initial Alternate ELPAC within 30 calendar days of enrollment or 60 calendar days prior to instruction, but not before July 1.

What is the difference between a task type and item type?

For the Alternate ELPAC, the term "task-type" is used to categorize a group of test items based on their content and the evidence of student's language proficiency with the language task they are designed to assess (e.g., "Recognize-and-Use-Common-Words"). In contrast, the term "item-type" is used to describe items based on the form they take in the test delivery system (e.g., selected response or constructed response). The test questions, or items, within a task type are aligned to one or more of the primary and secondary ELD Connectors.

About the Alternate ELPAC Operational Field Test

When will my local educational agency (LEA) need to complete administration of the Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

The Alternate ELPAC operational field test window is open from January 12 through February 16, 2021.

Does my LEA need to participate in the 2020–21 Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

Yes. All LEAs are required to participate in the Alternate ELPAC operational field test, as this is a census field test. The mandatory administration of the Alternate ELPAC operational field test will be administered to all eligible students from January 12 through February 16, 2021.

Test Administration

How is the Alternate ELPAC field test administered?

The Alternate ELPAC operational field test is delivered on a computer-based test delivery platform identical to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress and the ELPAC computer-based assessment. The administration process will follow the same one-on-one protocols as the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) administration.

Who can administer the Alternate ELPAC?

Per California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 11518(I) external-icon, ELPAC assessments can only be administered by employees or contractors of a local educational agency (LEA) or nonpublic school who are proficient in English, have received formal ELPAC Administration and Scoring Training, and have signed a Test Security Affidavit. In addition, for the Alternate ELPAC, we highly recommend that the test examiner (TE) be an educator who is familiar with the student and their preferred communication mode, similar to the requirements for administering the CAAs.

How does the TE use the Directions for Administration (DFA) to interact with the student while administering the Alternate ELPAC?

The TE reads the test questions to the student from the DFA. The DFA contains grade-specific directions and scripts for each test question. The TE must use the DFA to administer the test to a student. The DFA also includes alternative text to describe images for students with visual impairments as well as directions for optional individualization for students who would benefit from the use of manipulatives, objects, or picture cards. Note, TEs will need to use the guidance in the DFA to locally score constructed response items.

The operational field test DFAs are available in the Test Operations Management System external-icon (secure logon credentials required for access).

What is individualization?

Individualization is the process of adjusting the test question to meet individual student needs based on the educator's knowledge of the student. For example, a student's expressive communication mode may be picture cards or an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device. TEs would follow the optional individualization provided in the DFA to administer a test question using printed picture cards or picture cards loaded onto an AAC device.

What are the rules for pausing during testing?

If the student is not engaging with the items, the TE can pause and resume the test as many times as necessary, including over multiple days. Be sure to keep in mind that the test will expire at the end of the testing window.

Does my LEA need to administer a locally determined English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessment for 2020–‍21 or just administer the operational field test?

All eligible students identified for the Summative Alternate ELPAC, will take the Alternate ELPAC operational field test. Although LEAs may use a locally determined alternate assessment for making decisions throughout the academic year, it will not fulfill the requirement to administer the state's annual ELP assessment which is now the Alternate ELPAC.

Can anyone with training administer the Alternate ELPAC or should the test be administered by special education teachers or staff?

The California Department of Education highly recommends that someone who knows the student well and is able to understand the student's preferred communication mode administer the test.

When should a locally determined ELP assessment be used by an LEA?

Locally determined ELP assessments can be used by the LEA to provide any additional information to support a student's English language development services.

When will the Initial Alternate ELPAC be available?

The first operational Initial Alternate ELPAC administration will be available July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022, in line with the Initial ELPAC testing window.

Second Scoring

What is second scoring?

A subset of local educational agencies (LEAs) that have students taking the Alternate ELPAC will be selected to participate in second scoring. This means that a second test examiner (TE) will be present at the time of testing to score each student's responses to certain items. LEAs will be chosen to participate annually, on a rotating basis. Please refer to this handout to obtain more information on second scoring.

Why is second scoring required for the Alternate ELPAC?

Critical Element 4.4 of A State's Guide to the U.S. Department of Education's Assessment Peer Review Process external-icon requires that any scoring involving human judgment, including scoring conducted by TEs, must contain evidence that the scoring of these items includes adequate procedures and criteria for ensuring and documenting interrater reliability. Second scoring is the process of having another educator score the same student's rubric-scored items simultaneously, yet independently, from the student's primary TE. The purpose of second scoring is to establish and document standardized scoring procedures, and second scoring is one method of providing scorer reliability evidence.

What are the requirements and responsibilities of the second scorer?

The secondary TE (second scorer) must meet the same criteria as the primary TE. The secondary TE must be credentialed and have signed the security affidavit in the Test Operations Management System external-icon. Ideally, the secondary TE is also a teacher familiar with the student's individual testing needs. Please refer to the Alternate ELPAC Operational Field Test Administration Manual (coming soon) for details on roles and responsibilities.

How is second scoring conducted?

In addition to the student's primary TE, a secondary TE who is familiar with the student will need to be present at the time of testing to observe and score the student's response to any rubric-scored items. The secondary TE's score should reflect the examiner's independent judgment using the rubric provided in the Directions for Administration (DFA). The DFA will have a section specifically for the secondary TE, with instructions on how to second score. All second scores will need to be entered into the Data Entry Interface (DEI). LEAs can refer to the How to Enter Student Responses into the Data Entry Interface (DEI) video for guidance on how to use the DEI.

Student Accessibility Resources and Test Settings: Universal Tools, Designated Supports, and Accommodations

What designated supports and accommodations are available for Alternate ELPAC testing?

To complete one or more questions, students may need testing resources such as universal tools, designated supports, or accommodations. Educators and test examiners (TEs) should refer to the California Assessment Accessibility Resources Matrix external-icon web document.

All accessibility resources must be loaded in the Test Operations Management System external-icon (TOMS) using the TOMS upload file, Individual Student Assessment Accessibility Profile Tool, or manual selection. Designated supports are available to all students when determined for use by an educator or team of educators (with parent/guardian and student input, as appropriate) or specified in the student's individualized education program (IEP) or Section 504 plan. Accommodations for the Alternate ELPAC must be permitted to all eligible students if specified in a student's IEP or Section 504 plan.

Educators should use the Online Practice and Training Tests web page to provide students with the opportunity to use these accessibility resources within the test delivery system.

Is there a braille version available for the Alternate ELPAC?

There is no braille version for the Alternate ELPAC. However, TEs are able to locally braille test questions prior to test administration.

Will there be text-to-speech options for students with an IEP?

No. Text-to-speech is an accommodation that is not available for the Alternate ELPAC. Given this is a one-on-one administration, the TE should verbalize test content to the student as appropriate.

Will student test settings that are assigned in TOMS for the Alternate ELPAC also apply to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)?

No. The accessibility resources for the two programs differ. Although the process for establishing the student test settings in TOMS is the same for both assessments, test settings must be entered or uploaded separately for the Alternate ELPAC and CAASPP. However, if a student is designated eligible for alternate assessments in TOMS, this designation is valid for all CAASPP and ELPAC assessments.

What if my student is deaf or hard of hearing?

The Alternate ELPAC is designed to be accessible for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The use of receptive and expressive task types on the Alternate ELPAC allows maximum flexibility for students to demonstrate their English language proficiency through the means that are most consistent with how they are able to communicate in the classroom. Students are allowed to respond using their preferred individual communication mode. For example, students who are deaf or hard of hearing and who typically use Manually Coded English in the classroom can have the test directions signed to them.

User Management in the Test Operations Management System (TOMS)

Do I have to add each individual who will be administering the Alternate ELPAC?

Yes. Local educational agency ELPAC coordinators and site ELPAC coordinators need to add each individual educator as a test examiner (TE). Coordinators have the option to add TEs one at a time through the user interface or all at once via batch file upload. Coordinators can download a template from TOMS and then manually enter users or copy users from the previous administration. Every newly added TE must sign an electronic Test Security Affidavit upon logging on to TOMS.

How are students eligible to take the Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

To be eligible for the Alternate ELPAC operational field test, students must first be designated as alternate assessment test takers by their individualized education program team; to be designated as alternate assessment test takers, students must have

  • an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act indicator of "Yes" from the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, and
  • a valid primary disability type.

Eligibility for the Alternate ELPAC field test will then be determined by the following:

  • English Language Acquisition Status = English learner
  • Primary Language Code other than English or Sign Language
  • Enrollment in kindergarten through grade twelve (as a student who is under twenty-two years of age)

If a student is designated for the Alternate ELPAC operational field test, then that student will be designated for the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) as well (and vice versa).

If a user removes a student's Alternate ELPAC operational field test registration, that student's CAA registration will also be removed (and vice versa).

Scoring and Entering Responses

Is the Data Entry Interface (DEI) used for the Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

The DEI is a tool used by the second scorer to enter student scores for expressive items with a rubric, as outlined in the Directions for Administration.

Score Reporting

Will there be scores from the 2020–21 Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

Yes. Summative scores will be produced from the results of the 2020–21 Alternate ELPAC operational field test.

What are the participation criteria for the 2020–21 Alternate ELPAC operational field test?

To count as having participated in the Alternate ELPAC operational field test, a student must respond to one receptive item and one expressive item using the response options provided or indicating the "Mark-As-No-Response" feature in the context menu in the test delivery system.

Training and Information

What training resources are available?

A variety of resources are available to help local educational agencies (LEAs), schools, and students prepare for the administration of the Alternate ELPAC:

Practice and Training Tests

Practice and training tests are available on the Practice and Training Test Resources web page. The practice tests provide examples of task types that are administered in each grade level or grade span. They also provide a sense of how the 2012 California English Language Development Standards are assessed.

Moodle Training Site

Individuals who receive Alternate ELPAC Administration and Scoring Training will have access to a Moodle website containing training materials. The Moodle Training Site external-icon is a learning management system for training and calibration resources for the Alternate ELPAC operational field test. One representative from each LEA is required to complete the online LEA certification course. This certification meets the training requirement for the LEA. A certificate of completion will be produced upon completion of the LEA certification course. It is comprised of five video modules. In addition, the test examiner (TE) course will be set up in a course completion format where LEA ELPAC coordinators can monitor the training of their own TEs.

Manuals and Instructions

The Alternate ELPAC Operational Field Test Administration Manual (coming soon), Test Operations Management System Guide for the ELPAC (coming soon), ELPAC Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) web page, and other text resources are posted under the Test Administration menu and Resources menu on ELPAC.org.

Informational Videos

Informational and overview videos for parents and educators are available on the ELPAC Videos web page.

Are TEs required to attend the official Alternate ELPAC training or can they be trained at the school site?

The regulations state, to administer the Alternate ELPAC, LEAs have the responsibility of training TEs. To accomplish this, the California Department of Education, along with Educational Testing Service and Sacramento County Office of Education, have created training modules in the Moodle Training Site external-icon.

When I train TEs, will they have to do the calibration in the Moodle Training Site? Can they do it on paper and give me their calibration sheets to keep for accountability?

Either option is fine, as long as TEs make sure they are certified to be TEs prior to administering the Alternate ELPAC operational field test.