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Identification and Assessment
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English Learner Identification and Assessment

English Learner Identification and Assessment

English Learner Identification
There are several steps to determining whether or not a student is eligible for English Learner services. As required by state and federal law, the same process is used with all students in MPS to determine whether or not they are eligible for these services. A student is never identified as an English Learner based on appearance, name, ethnic background, religious background, or a parent or sibling's language ability.

The first step in this process is that all students enrolling in Minneapolis Public Schools complete a MN Language Survey. The Language Survey asks parents to report;

  • Languages the student first learned
  • Languages the student speaks
  • Languages the student understands, and 
  • Languages the student has consistent interaction in

If the survey answers show that the student has experience with a language other than English, then the student's English Language Proficiency will be evaluated to see if they qualify for services. This is generally done at the New Family Center at the time of registration, but if not, the evaluation will be administered at the student's school as soon as possible. New students are assessed with either the K-WAPT (for Kindergarten students) or the WIDA Screener (for students in grades 1-12). If a student was receiving English Learner services at another school before enrolling in MPS, records from the previous school may be used to determine eligibility instead.

Who is Eligible
Students who meet the entrance criteria based on these assessments are eligible for English Learner services, and the results of these assessments are used to determine the appropriate level of EL service at the

student's school. School staff will also evaluate data such as evidence of past participation in EL programs, MCA/MAP assessment data, and classroom performance to determine an appropriate level of service.

In some cases, the results of these assessment show that students qualify for and would benefit from English Learner services even if they speak only English at home, or if English was the first language they learned. Students may also qualify for services if they are fully proficient in one aspect of English (such as Speaking), but would benefit from additional support in another area, such as Writing or Reading. Students who are proficient in using English socially often still need additional support to fully master academic English at advanced levels. For these reasons, English Learner services are strongly recommended for all students who meet the entrance criteria. However, parents have the right to waive or refuse EL services for students who qualify. Services may be waived by contacting the ESL team at the student's school and completing a Waiver request form.

English Learner Assessment
In order to ensure that all English Learners in MPS are making adequate progress in acquiring academic English and increasing English language proficiency, all English Learners are assessed annually. This includes students whose parents have chosen to Waive EL services.

  • ACCESS for ELs:  Students identified as EL are assessed annually in the four domains of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Based on the results of this assessment, students receive an English proficiency level on a scale of 1-6 which determines the level of service at their school. Students who receive an English proficiency level of 4.5 or higher with at least three domain (Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing) scores of 3.5 or higher are considered to have reached proficiency in English
    and will no longer receive services.
  • Alternate ACCESS for ELs:  This English language proficiency test given annually to students in grades 1-12 who have been identified as ELs and have significant cognitive disabilities that limit their participation in the standard ACCESS test. Students are assessed in the four language domains of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking.

Exiting from EL Services
ACCESS scores are evaluated at the end of each school year to determine each student's eligibility for ongoing EL support. When a student meets the criteria for Exiting, they are no longer eligible to receive English Learner services, and will be "exited" from the program. The same Exit Criteria are used to determine reclassification of Dual Eligible (Special Education) students. Once identified as an English Learner, students will continue to receive services every year until they meet the Exit criteria on the ACCESS test. It is difficult to predict the exact time it will take for a student to fully acquire the English language and Exit services; it may take 5-10 years. Every student is different and may develop at different rates and in different ways.

Change in EL Status
A student's status as an English Learner may change at any point during the year if parents request such as choosing to Waive EL services, or to accept services that were previously Waived. A student's status may also change if parents request that a student who was previously determined to be ineligible for EL services be re-assessed due to language/academic concerns. Any requests for a status change must be made by contacting a student's ESL teacher.