August 25, 2014

For Immediate Release


Denise Kahler


ELPA21 State Consortium Receives Additional Grant Funding

US DOE awards consortium additional $2.8 million to accelerate timeline for
21st century assessment system for English language learners


TOPEKA – Kansas is one of 11 states participating in the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) consortium, which was recently awarded an additional $2.8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education (US DOE). Increasingly rigorous content standards being implemented across the United States necessitate a valid, reliable assessment of English language proficiency. Approximately two dozen Kansas teachers are involved in test development, including creating and reviewing assessment items.


The original Enhanced Assessment Grant (EAG), awarded in 2012, is being used to develop a screener for schools to assess baseline English language proficiency of incoming English language learners (ELLs), and a research-based, summative assessment to accurately and consistently measure English proficiency levels of ELLs. The supplemental funding will be used to accelerate the summative assessment implementation plan for consortium states; the additional funding brings ELPA21’s overall funding amount to $9,080,044.


Phyllis Farrar, Kansas State Department of Education Program Consultant for World Languages who is leading this effort for Kansas, says “Kansas teachers have been asking for a new, more accurate test for several years. They are eager to field test the ELPA21 assessments and start using them, so the funding that speeds up the timeline is most welcome.”


The ELPA21 states — Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington, and West Virginia — have made significant progress in the last year toward achieving the consortium’s established goals. The states have developed a governance system, collaborated with other assessment consortia on operating platforms, and initiated test item development. The new target goal for implementation of ELPA21’s summative assessment is 2015-16. Many of the consortium states will begin assessing new, more rigorous standards in school year 2014-15. With an English language proficiency assessment corresponding to these new standards in 2015-16, member states will be positioned to understand and meet the needs of their ELLs a year earlier than initially planned.


The goal of ELPA21 is to provide online assessments that best measure ELLs’ mastery of the communication demands of states’ rigorous academic standards. The assessments are designed around the four language domains: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Additionally, the assessments will include more interactive item styles, especially for speaking and listening; reduce turnaround time on reporting results; improve efficiency of data collection and management; and reduce administrative burdens on school and district staff. For more information on ELPA21, please visit


There are more than 600,000 ELL students across the ELPA21 consortia states and approximately 51,000 ELL students in Kansas. ELLs represent 10 percent of Kansas’ grades K-12 student population.