Identification of ELs

Identification of ELLs

The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires that families of all public school children respond to a Home Language Survey given at registration.  If a language other than English is spoken in the home, the ELL teacher will evaluate the student’s level of English proficiency in the domains of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

   Home Language Survey.
          All students seeking first time enrollment in a school shall be given a home

          language survey in according with requirements of the U.S. Department of     

Education’s Office for Civil Rights.  Enrollment of the student may not be     delayed in order to administer the Home Language Survey.  A copy of the Home Language Survey may be found on



Children and Families with Limited English Proficiency.
Children and families with limited English proficiency must be provided translation and interpretation services to the extent needed to help the family understand the enrollment process and enroll the student in school promptly per the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. and the Equal Education Opportunity Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1703.


Student identification for placement in an instructional program for ELLs
     • Based on the responses to the home language survey (HLS), students must

       be assessed for potential placement in a program unless they meet the criteria

       outlined below. There are certain scenarios that may preclude assessment if

       a student can demonstrate English language proficiency (ELP).


       Students should meet two of the following three criteria to be exempted from a

       formal ELP assessment. Student records for children from other states or school

       systems can be considered as part of the criteria.


       – Final grades of B or better in core subject areas (Mathematics, Language Arts,

         Science and Social Studies);
       – Scores on district-wide assessments that are comparable to the Basic

          performance level on the PSSA;
       – Scores of Basic in Reading, Writing and Math on the PSSA or an equivalent

          assessment from another state.

     • Newly enrolling students without academic records must be assessed for

       their ELP.
     • LEAs must use the WIDA ACCESS PLACEMENT TEST (W-APT), which is aligned

       to the required annual State ELP assessment, ACCESS for ELLs, to assess

       students for placement in language instructional programs for ELLs.
          * LEAs may choose to use other formal, standardized ELP assessments for

            additional information BUT identification and placement must be based on

            the W-APT and the multiple criteria outlined above.
     • The W-APT results are one of the indicators for placement in ESL/Bilingual

        programs and must be used in combination with the above multiple criteria,

        if available, to determine placement in an ESL program.
     • Educators must take into consideration the State’s ELP levels described within

       the PA ELPS standards when placing students in an instructional program

       for ELLs.
     • Instructional placement of ELLs must be age and grade appropriate. Additionally,

       ELLs must be given equal access to all educational programs, opportunities,

       and extra curricular activities in the same manner as for all students.

     • Parent permission to assess IS NOT REQUIRED. 

     • Parent notification of student assessment results and placement in an

       ESL/Bilingual program is required.