Learning Support Services

 English Learner Program (EL)

Jamie Lafuze, EL Program Coordinator 
(858) 521-2748


What is “identification?”
In the Poway Unified School District (PUSD), students are “identified” for a variety of extra services, such as “identification” for our gifted program, or “identification” for English learner services.  English learner (EL) identification focuses on the students who have a language other than English in the home.  Through our state-required testing program, we determine which of these students would benefit from extra assistance in developing their social and academic English.

How are newly-enrolling students identified as English learners?
Newly-enrolling students who have a primary language other than English, based on the Home Language Survey, are given the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) to determine their level of English proficiency. 
Newly-enrolling students in grades TK-12 who score at the Novice or Intermediate level on the ELPAC are identified as English Learners (EL). 

What is the English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC)?
The ELPAC is the test that the State of California requires public school districts to use to assess the English language proficiency of students who have a language in the home other than English.  ELPAC is not an achievement test – it just lets us know where the student is in the process of learning English. 
The ELPAC is used to:

  • initially determine the English language proficiency of all newly-enrolling students who have a language other than English in their home
  • monitor the progress of our English learners in acquiring English (once each year)
  • help determine if an English learner is ready to be reclassified out of the English Learner Program

What does the ELPAC assess?
At all grade levels, the ELPAC has four sections:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing 

What scores does a student receive on the ELPAC?
The Initial ELPAC is administered to all students new to California with a primary language other than English.  This assessment is scored on one of three levels overall:  Novice, Intermediate, and FEP.  Any student scoring “FEP” will not be placed in the EL program. Those students scoring at the Novice or Intermediate level will be placed in our English Learner Program and receive appropriate services. Students who take the Initial ELPAC will also receive a score for oral language (listening and speaking) and written language (reading and writing), which will be reported as one of three levels – Minimally Developed, Somewhat to Moderately Developed, and WEL Developed.
The Summative (annual) ELPAC is administered in the spring to all continuing EL students and is scored on four levels overall:  Beginning, Somewhat Developed, Moderately Developed, and WEL Developed.  Students will also receive a score for oral language (listening and speaking) and written language (reading and writing) which will be scored on the same four levels. Additionally, students will receive an individual level for Listening/Speaking/Reading/Writing, which is reported as one of three levels – Beginning, Somewhat to Moderately Developed, and WEL Developed. 
How is the ELPAC administered?
Some parts of the test are group administered, and some parts are administered individually.  At grades TK-1, the entire test is administered one-on-one.  All testers are district employees who attend special training each year. 
Who scores the ELPAC tests?
For newly-enrolling students, the tests are hand-scored at the school to determine the correct program placement for the student.  The tests for our continuing EL students are generally scored only by the testing company.
How do parents receive notification of their student’s scores on the ELPAC?
For newly-enrolling students, the school will send the scores to the parents, along with information on the student’s instructional placement.  For our continuing English Learners, parents will receive the scores through the mail as soon as we receive them back from the testing company.
How often does the student take the ELPAC?
Once a student has been identified as an English learner using the ELPAC, the state requires that they continue to take the test once each year until they meet the district’s reclassification criteria. 
Can parents “opt” their child out of ELPAC testing?
The state law (Ed. Code 313) does not make any allowances for parents to opt their child out of ELPAC testing, so parent opt-outs are not allowed. 
Why are English learners tested in their primary language?
When a student is first identified as an English learner, we may test them in their primary language (one time).  We test the students in Listening and Speaking (grades TK-12), as wEL as Reading and Writing (grades 2-12).  This testing helps us to identify the language skills that the students bring with them.  These language skills can actually help the students as they learn English.  For example, a student will learn to read in English more quickly if they can already read in another language, even if that language is very different from English.  The results of the Primary Language Testing will be sent home to the parents.


The Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is an equal opportunity employer/program and is committed to an active Nondiscrimination Program. PUSD prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, immigration status, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental ability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression or association with a person or a group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. For more information, please contact: Title IX/Equity Compliance Officer, James Jimenez, Associate Superintendent of Personnel Support Services, Poway Unified School District, 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128, 1-858-521-2800, extension 2121, jjimenez@powayusd.com. For students, you may contact Title IX Coordinator/ 504 Coordinator Jamie Dayhoff, Director of Attendance and Discipline, Poway Unified School District, 1-858-521-2840, jdayhoff@powayusd.com

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POWAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT | 15250 Avenue of Science, San Diego, CA 92128 | (858) 521-2800