Frequently Asked Questions—ELPAC Transition to a Computer-Based Assessment and Alternate ELPAC

What is the ELPAC?

The English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) is used to assess students whose primary language is a language other than English. The ELPAC is aligned with the 2012 California English Language Development Standards and consists of two separate assessments: an initial assessment, used to identify students as English learners, and a summative assessment, given annually and used to measure a student’s progress in learning English.

Why is the ELPAC transitioning from paper-pencil to a computer-based test?

Transitioning the ELPAC for grades three through twelve aligns with the state’s mission to equip students with 21st century skills they need to be college and career ready. However, writing for grades kindergarten through two, the ELPAC will remain a paper-pencil test to accommodate younger students. This transition also creates a streamlined statewide test-administration process. Students and educators will be using a single assessment platform, one they are familiar with from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress system.

How will the computer-based test be different from the paper-pencil test? Will the test be harder?

The ELPAC is aligned to the rigor of the California 2012 English Language Development Standards. Like the paper version of the Summative ELPAC, the computer-based Summative ELPAC will measure a student’s English-language proficiency.

Will I get my child’s test scores faster when the ELPAC transitions to a computer-based test?

The computer-based ELPAC for grades three through twelve will allow parents to receive scores faster than the paper version. Parents will also have the option to access their child’s test score electronically depending on how their LEA plans on distributing the scores. Contact your LEA to find out how they plan to distribute score reports or if you would like the option to get your scores delivered electronically or in paper format.

If my child is not familiar with a computer, will their test scores be affected on the computer-based test?

Students will receive appropriate support and guidance on familiarizing themselves with the computer-based assessment so that they can accurately demonstrate their English language proficiency, not their computer skills. The supports can include access to a Test Navigation Assistant available to students who are newly arrived to the U.S. or students who are not familiar with the technology or the test delivery device. The Test Navigation Assistants are trained test examiners who follow an approved guideline to help with functions such as mouse point-and-click, scroll bar assistance, onscreen navigation, or keyboarding to start a test session. Students can solicit the help of a Test Navigation Assistant TNA during one-on-one or group administrations of the test. Students who are technology novices can also receive support from a Designated Interface Assistant to help if the student has limited keyboarding skills that prevent them from responding to a test question. A Designated Interface Assistant can only be used during one-on-one administration of the test.

What resources or supports are available to help my child prepare for the test and to assist if my child is either not familiar with a computer or has limited English fluency?

Practice and training tests will be available in the fall for students and teachers to become familiar with the computer-based ELPAC. The optional Technology Readiness Checker for Students will also be available. The purpose of the checker is to help determine any additional supports a child might need when taking the ELPAC. Assistance with technology and with the navigation of the online testing platform will also be available for students across all grades.

What type of accommodations and resources are available for my child?

Enhanced accessibility resources will be available to students, such as assistance with technology and test navigation, as will additional accommodations to support greater access for all students, including those with disabilities. Examples of universal tools include a feature that helps younger students (kindergarten through grade two) focus on the content by expanding passages and enlarging item arrows, a zoom-in feature to enlarge the pictures or text, and a masking tool to “cover” content on the screen.

For students with disabilities using the Individual Student Assessment Accessibility Profile Tool process will have an option to use the traditional non-embedded, or non-digital, presentation of the accommodation or to use the embedded, or digital, accommodation. A human sign-language interpreter will also be an option for students who use American Sign Language.

What is the Alternate ELPAC?

The proposed Alternate ELPAC will be a statewide language proficiency assessment administered to English learners and potential English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The Initial Alternate ELPAC will be used to identify English learners, and the Summative Alternate ELPAC will be used to measure their progress in English language proficiency until reclassified. The Summative Alternate ELPAC will be piloted in January 2020 and field-tested in 2021. The Initial Alternate ELPAC will become operational in July 2021, followed by the operational Summative ELPAC in February 2022. During the 2019-20 school year, LEAs will continue to use locally determined Alternate English Language Proficiency assessments.

If my child is taking the ELPAC or Alternate ELPAC, do they also have to take the Smarter Balanced English Language Arts/Literacy (ELA) or the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for ELA?

English learner students who have been attending school in the U.S. for less than 12 months are not required to take the Smarter Balanced ELA but are required to take the Initial ELPAC and the Summative ELPAC. English learner students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities whose individualized education program (IEP) indicates they require an alternate assessment are not required to take the CAA for ELA but are required to take the Initial and Summative Alternate ELPAC (once operational).

English learner students who have been in a U.S. school for more than 12 months, are in grades three through eight or eleven, and are taking either the ELPAC or Alternate ELPAC (once operational) are required to participate in either the Smarter Balanced ELA or the CAA for ELA, if their IEP indicates they require an alternate assessment.