Local students reclassified as English language proficient
In a celebration of achievement, 12 students enrolled in the Special Education program at the Merced County Office of Education were reclassified as Fluent English Proficient with the Alternative English Language Proficiency Assessment of California (Alt ELPAC) as the English Language Proficiency Assessment.
The reclassification highlighted the importance of inclusive educational opportunities for students.
Traditionally, students with moderate to severe disabilities faced numerous obstacles for language acquisition and often struggled to meet the criteria for reclassification due to local English proficiency assessments, which were subjective or inconsistent, according to MCOE Special Education Program Director Maria Duran-Barajas.
The Alt ELPAC, developed by the California Department of Education, replaces all locally determined alternate assessments and provides a standardized measurement of English Language Proficient across the state for students with significant cognitive disabilities. In order to classify as Fluent English Proficient, students must: earn a level 3 on the Alt ELPAC, meet language comprehension and reading fluency levels equal to their English-only peers and complete a teacher evaluation and parent consultation.
“Parents are so grateful and students want to be treated as any other child.” Duran-Barajas said at the ceremony “They did an outstanding job in demonstrating English proficiency skills similar to their peers who only speak English.” Duran-Barajas also emphasized how important it was to celebrate the milestone for students and their families.
This was the first time that students who are English Learners had the opportunity to showcase their English proficiency skills since there was previously no assessment geared toward students with moderate to severe disabilities.
Duran-Barajas said it took a year to develop a reclassification process, which incorporated the alternate criteria using scores from the first Alt ELPAC test taken in spring 2022. More than 250 students from Los Banos, Livingston and Merced areas were tested with the new criteria.
The achievement serves as inspiration to reconsider assessment practices and opportunities available to students with disabilities and the significance of equitable education for students of all abilities.