Who needs an end of year OLPT?

Do I have to give all LEP students an oral language proficiency test at the end of the year? This is probably the second most asked question about end of the year (EOY) procedures, just after why don’t we just use TELPAS to meet oral language proficiency requirements for exiting? (read the post on this)

The short answer is: It’s up to the district.

Some districts give every single LEP student an oral language proficiency test sometime in late April, early May. Why? For one reason, the OLPTs from the list of approved tests are a good deal more objective than what you get from TELPAS speaking and listening “assessment.” Actually, in terms of speaking and listening (and maybe writing too) TELPAS is more like an observation than an assessment, but that’s a topic for another post…. So, some districts use the OLPT to get a good picture of each student’s oral proficiency at the end of the year. It also provides a good measure of oral progress because you can compare the EOY proficiency score with previous OLPT scores.

Other districts give the OLPT only to potential exit candidates (remember that in order to exit, a student needs to score fluent on a non-TELPAS oral language proficiency test). Testing costs money, so why test needlessly? If a student is not expected to meet the other exit criteria, he/she really doesn’t need the OLPT. TELPAS, flawed as it is, can provide an oral language proficiency measure to be used on an end of year review of student progress.

Don’t forget that LPACs are required by state and federal law to annually review each LEP student’s progress in learning English and academic success.  To that end, in addition to an OLPT, some districts administer a norm-referenced academic achievement test (NRT SAT) in reading and writing/language arts or an English reading and writing proficiency test to those students who did not take TAKS/STAAR  or the LAT version. Some districts (Houston ISD for one) give all students an NRT SAT at the end of the year. Just another data point on which to measure/compare progress, I suppose.

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