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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.

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 Summative Tests

The ELPA21 summative assessment is administered in Iowa schools from mid-February through mid-April. The test administration window for the 2017-18 school year will be February 13-April 13, 2018. 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.

You may request a copy of Iowa's most recent technical report by emailing Jennifer Riedemann at

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 Manual - 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.

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. Training to administer and score the ELPA21 Screener will be available in summer 2018. The announcement of dates will be provided in the School Leader Update and distributed through Title III consultants.

More Resources for Parents and Teachers of ELs from ELPA21

TELPA Screener (ending in July 2018)

The TELPA is the current required screener used as a placement measure. Iowa will replace it with the ELPA21 Screener for all new English Learners beginning in August 2018.

Ordering the TELPA

Any districts needing to purchase the TELPA screener should place the order directly with Measurement Incorporated (MI). TELPA can only be ordered online. It is sold in packs of 10 and includes all the support materials needed.

If you would like to place an order or have any other questions, please contact the TELPA Helpline at 888-612-0180 or Associates at Measurement Incorporated will provide you with the credentials for your district as well as directions on how to place an order on the TELPA website.

TELPA Administration Training

The TELPA Training Module is located in the AEA PD Online training system. Use the following directions to access the training module:

Directions for Accessing the Webinar/Training Modules for ELPA21

TELPA Administration

  1. Download the correct bubble answer sheet (BAS).
    1. TELPA K-2 Answer Sheet
    2. TELPA 3-12 Answer Sheet
    3. K-2 Student Record Form
  2. Score the screeners locally using administration manuals from Measurement Incorporated.
  3. Use proficiency information to inform educational programming decisions.
  4. Place the bubble answer sheet in student’s permanent file

Required Data Submission

Schools are required to submit student screening data using the Score Reporting Template found below. ELL Placement Proficiency is no longer included as a data element for Student Reporting in Iowa. (NOTE: This is a new template updated for the 2017-18 school year. Please discard any previous versions.) Follow these steps:

  1. Download and complete the Score Reporting Template to enter student information and TELPA scores. Save each file using your LEA name and Date (e. g., Ames_072716).
  2. Go to the Iowa GSecureMail center at If this is your first time using this site, you will be prompted to register your email and set a password.
  3. After signing in to GSecureMail, click on 'Compose.' Enter in the 'To' field. In the Subject field, enter your district name and the word TELPA (e. g., Ames TELPA).
  4. Click on the 'Attach File' button and click on ‘Choose file’ to select the file created in Step One. Click on 'Add File' to upload your file, then click on 'Finish.'
  5. Click on ‘Send’ to send your email. If you have any issues using Iowa GSecureMail, please contact the OCIO helpdesk at 515-281-5703, option 2.


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 22, 2018 at 11:08am.