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English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21)


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Assessing English Learners (ELs)

Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as the Every Student Succeeds Act) requires states and schools to be accountable for addressing the needs of English Learners. One important aspect of this accountability involves assessments of English Language proficiency used to track students’ growth and inform programming decisions.

Iowa English Learner Assessment Procedures

ELPA21 Consortium

English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century logo

Iowa has joined a group of states committed to supporting educators, member states, and the public as they adopt and implement the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards and college- and career-ready standards. The ELPA21 Consortium has developed an assessment system based on the ELP Standards that informs instruction so all ELs leave high school prepared for college and career success.

The ELPA21 assessment system includes a Home Language Survey, a placement screener, a summative measure of English language proficiency, and professional learning modules supporting implementation of Iowa’s English Language Proficiency Standards. Information about the consortium can be found at

ELPA21 Assessment

young girl on a laptop computer

The ELPA21 is the growth measure used to assess English language proficiency. This assessment is tightly aligned to the new Iowa English Language Proficiency Standards and corresponds to the Iowa English Language Arts Standards of the Iowa Core.  It has been developed in six grade bands: K, 1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, and 9-12.

The ELPA21 is an online assessment measuring English proficiency in reading, writing, listening and speaking. Because it is an online assessment, the test coordinators and test administrators (teachers) are released of the burden of on-site scoring. The online capabilities increase test security and validity of test results for Iowa’s ELs. The consortium uses the American Institutes for Research (AIR) testing platform and expertise in administering online ELP assessments. Most of the test is scored online, while those test items requiring human scoring (speaking and some writing) are scored with a centralized scoring process.

Mandatory training is provided each school year beginning in late fall for tech coordinators, district/school test coordinators, and test administrators. The announcement of dates will be provided in the School Leader Update and distributed through Title III consultants.


ELPA21 Screener (starting in August 2018)

The ELPA21 screener will replace the TELPA as the required placement screener beginning in August 2018. Unlike the TELPA, the ELPA21 Screener will be administered online. Information about training to administer and score the ELPA21 Screener is below.

Here is the link to the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied the above webinar. 

ELPA21 Summative Tests

The ELPA21 summative assessment is administered in Iowa schools February 2019 through March 2019.  Resources related to the ELPA21 assessment can be accessed via the Iowa ELPA21 Assessment Portal.

Each test form includes a wide-variety of test items:

  • Selected-response items require students to select one or more responses from a list of options and may include both multiple-choice and true-or-false formats.
  • Technology-enhanced items, comprising at least 20 percent of the assessment items, require students to respond to questions by interacting with the test item. For example, a student might place words in the appropriate order, select text in a paragraph, or match objects to words.
  • Constructed-response items require students to provide text or record speech or respond to a task, and include both short and long constructed-response items.

The item type used for a particular skill and context is determined by matching the evidence needed to the most appropriate method for acquiring that evidence. In addition, some of the items use digital media (sound, animation, video, or interactive widgets) as the setting for the test question.

ELPA21 Accommodations

ELPA21 believes that all ELs should have access to assessments that accurately measure the skills they need to progress toward English language proficiency. Equitable access to the ELPA21 assessment ensures valid data and useful information that help parents, educators, and school administrators meet the needs of each student.

ELPA21 Test Accessibility and Accommodations – Describes the accessibility features and accommodations that ELPA21 offers to students on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans.  IEP teams and educators for 504 plans make decisions about these accommodations. For ELs with disabilities, these teams should include an expert in the area of second-language acquisition.


More Resources for Parents and Teachers of ELs from ELPA21

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 24, 2020 at 1:46am.