English Proficiency Assessment

Blue Box

Linking Social, Academic, and Testing Environments

  • Grade K-12 teachers of English language learners face the challenge of preparing their students for success in three arenas: social situations, the classroom, and the testing environment. Social situations usually offer the most support and context for language learning, as well as opportunities to rely on both cognitive and social processes. In the language and academic classroom, learners are provided with language experience opportunities with grade-level peers, activation of background knowledge and experience during lesson learning, and enhanced visuals. By contrast, the testing environment is usually less contextualized, requiring learners to rely only on individual cognitive skills, test-taking strategies, and limited visuals.


  • As we place children whose home language is not English into school programs and later determine that they are ready for mainstream or all-English instruction, it is imperative that we take into account, not only their ability to understand and speak English, but their ability to read and write. If a child can understand instruction in English, but cannot read the text or meet written assignments, the child will not succeed.

  • LAS Links

    The LAS Links English Language Proficiency Assessment, is an NCLB - compliant instrument that is used in Grades K-12 as a formal and standardized method of determining language proficiency. The test results provide important information for screening and placing English Language Learners (ELL) and subsequently for monitoring in acquiring English. The assessment measures the competencies necessary for successful academic and social language usage in mainstream classrooms: Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing, and Comprehension.

    Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs)

    The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal law requires the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to annually review the performance of each school district that receives funds under Title III for language instruction.

    NCLB also requires states to set specific student achievement goals for children learning to speak English. the Language Assessment Scales (LAS Links) are used in Connecticut to measure the development of their skills.

    Annual Assessment of English Proficiency - LAS Links

    Second language learners progress through certain developmental stages when acquiring a second language. The time period for each stage varies depending on the individual learner. English language proficiency is necessary for academic success. Five English language proficiency levels are linked to specifically expected performace, and they describe what English language learners can do within each doman (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) of the standards.

    Framework for Assessing English Proficiency - Communicative Competence

    LAS Links assesses competence that is specific to the school setting. LAS Links is based on teh concept that proficiency in a second language is multidimensional and comprised of a variety of skills.

    English Language Development

    While LAS Links designates five proficiency levels, this does not imply a linear view of language acquisition. Language acquisition is cumulative and multidimensional. Progress from one level of proficiency to the next is not even. The skills required to move from Beginning to Early Intermediate levels are much more limited than the skills required to move from Intermediate to Advanced. Students who score at the same level may exhibit varying levels of ability in different sub skills. Figure 1 depicts the levels of English language proficiency as steppingstones along the pathway to academic success. The progression is continued in Figure 2 where English language learners cross the bridge from English language proficiency to meet state academic content standards.

    English Language Development

    LAS Links Proficiency Levels and Descriptors

    The LAS Links Assessments measure language proficiency within five grade spans: K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 60-8, and 9-12. Within each grade span, a student can be assigned to one of five proficiency levels: Beginning, Early Intermediate, Intermediate, Proficient, or Above Proficient. The following table provides the description of learners at each level of proficiency:

    Proficiency Level 1
    BEGINNING

    A Level 1 student is beginning to develop receptive and productive uses of English in the school context, although comprehension may be demonstrated nonverbally or through the native language, rather than in English.

    Proficiency Level 2
    EARLY INTERMEDIATE

    A Level 2 student is developing the ability to communicate in English within the school context. Errors impede basic communication and comprehension. Lexical, syntactic, phonological, and discourse features of English are emerging.

    Proficiency Level 3
    INTERMEDIATE

    A Level 3 student is developing the ability to communicate effectively in English across a range of grade-level-appropriate language demands in the school context. Errors interfere with communication and comprehension. Repetition and negotiation are often needed. The student exhibits a
    limited range of lexical, syntactic, phonological, and discourse features when addressing new and familiar topics.

    Proficiency Level 4
    PROFICIENT

    A Level 4 student communicates effectively in English across a range of grade-level-appropriate language demands in the school context, even though errors occur. The student exhibits productive and receptive control of lexical, syntactic, phonological, and discourse features when addressing new and familiar topics.

    Proficiency Level 5
    ABOVE PROFICIENT

    A Level 5 student communicates effectively in English, with few if any errors. Across a wide range of grade-level-appropriate language demands in the school context. The student commands a high degree of productive and receptive control of lexical, syntactic, phonological, and discourse
    features when addressing new and familiar topics.

    Beginning to Early Intermediate
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    Word/Phrase Level
    Early Intermediate to Intermediate
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    Sentence Level
    Above Intermediate
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    Multi-sentence Discourse