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Identification & Placement

Procedures for Multilingual Learner Identification 

Proper identification of Multilingual Learners (MLs) helps ensure that the district’s English language acquisition program is best designed to meet the needs of its students. To develop comprehensive English language acquisition and academic programs for MLs, districts, schools, charters and facility schools must first have accurate knowledge regarding student's English Language Proficiency level. In Colorado, the English Language Proficiency Act (ELPA) requires all districts and schools to identify multilingual learners. In addition, Colorado Senate Bill 109, CRS 22-24-106 requires the use of one common assessment to identify ML students. Colorado administers the Screener for Kindergarten and WIDA Screener for grades 1-12 as the state mandated placement assessment which must be used as one indicator to determine English language proficiency of newly enrolled and students transferring back to the district. Per federal guidelines, students who have a language influence other than English must be screened, enrolled in a language instruction educational program, and parents must be notified within 30 days at the beginning of the school year. Throughout the remainder of the school year, determination must happen within two weeks of the student's enrollment.

Students in second semester, first-grade through grade 12 are assessed using the WIDA Screener. Kindergarten and first semester, first-grade students will be assessed using the Screener for Kindergarten beginning SY22-23.  As of July 1, 2022, the Kindergarten W-APT assessment will no longer be available for Colorado schools and districts to use in the English Learner Identification process. Please read important information about the transition to Screener for Kindergarten and discontinuing the use of the W-APT below. 

Transition to Screener for Kindergarten Occurring in SY22-23

WIDA Screener for Kindergarten is a new individually administered paper-and-pencil test that helps educators identify students as Multilingual Learners (MLs) in Kindergarten and 1st semester first grade. Colorado will continue to administer W-APT to kindergarten and 1st semester first grade students during SY21-22.  The full transition and requirement for districts to administer WIDA Screener Kindergarten will start SY22-23. CDE will not be providing cut scores to align to Colorado English language proficiency levels at this time. During SY21-22 the Office of CLDE will collect data to set cut point guidance to be disseminated for use in SY22-23.  Additionally, CLDE anticipates to provide supplemental test administration training in the Spring of 2022 after cut point data is collected and guidance is developed and disseminated.

WIDA has decided to retire the Kindergarten W-APT assessment at the end of school year 21-22. The W-APT training and assessment materials will be removed from the WIDA Secure Portal on June 30, 2022, and the assessment will no longer be supported. The Screener for Kindergarten Training Tile in WIDA’s Secure Portal was activated on May 1, 2021 for LEAs to begin to explore assessment materials and to prepare for test administration next year. Districts and schools should also be reviewing training modules & test certification quizzes and other information related to the Screener for Kindergarten during SY21-22.  CDE will not be suppling assessment kits.  Student and test administrator materials can be downloaded at no cost or can be purchased through the WIDA Store.

Foreign Exchange Students

Colorado follows the Federal Guidance which includes foreign exchange students in the 'all students' definition stated in the December 2010 document, Serving Foreign Students, The U.S. Department of Education advises that foreign exchange students who are identified as Limited English Proficient (LEP) and enrolled in public elementary or secondary schools in the United States are covered by the holding in the 1974 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Lau v. Nichols.  Districts must take affirmative steps to help students with LEP overcome language barriers so that they can participate meaningfully in each district’s education programs. [414 U.S. 563 (1974)]. 

  • Students who enroll in a Colorado school district with a language other than English indicated on the Home Language Survey (HLS) should trigger English Language Proficiency (ELP) level investigation. This includes foreign exchange students who indicate a language other than English on the HLS and would prompt the district to investigation their language proficiency by administering WIDA Screener or Screener for Kindergarten. 
  • Foreign exchange students are not exempt from Colorado’s Standardized Identification guidance.  Districts are required to follow the same procedures as other students to use Screener scores and body of evidence when making ELP level decisions.  If the district determines the foreign exchange student is eligible for English Language Development (ELD) instruction, follow the identification protocol and notify guardian prior to enrolling into an Language Instruction Educational Program (LIEP).

Annual English Language Proficiency Assessment for Multilingual Learners

WIDA ACCESS is a secure large-scale English Language Proficiency (ELP) assessment given annually to Kindergarten through 12th graders who have been identified as multilingual learners (NEP/LEP). It provides educators and parents information about the ELP level in the language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.  Students who qualify for Language Instruction Educational Programs (LIEP) but parents have formally opted-out of programs, are not exempt from testing. This assessment aligns to the Colorado English Language Proficiency Standards (CELP).  Please contact the Assessment Office for more information or training dates for ACCESS.  

ACCESS cut points to guide districts in making Non English Proficient (NEP), Limited English Proficient (LEP) and Fluent English Proficient (FEP) determinations for state reporting:

NEP: 1.0 – 2.4 (Overall)                                                         
LEP: 2.5 – 3.9 (Overall)                                                          
FEP M1: 4.0 Overall AND 4.0 Literacy                              

Civil Rights Obligations and Guidance

Identification Resources