TELPAS Proficiency Standards

English Language Proficiency Level Definitions

TELPAS assesses the English language proficiency of emergent bilingual (EB) students in grades K–12 in four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The four proficiency levels are advanced high, advanced, intermediate, and beginning.

The proficiency level definitions are as follows:



Beginning students have little or no ability to understand and use English. They may know a little English but not enough to function meaningfully in social or academic settings.



Intermediate students have some ability to understand and use English. They can function in social and academic settings as long as the tasks require them to understand and use simple language structures and high-frequency vocabulary in routine contexts. 



Advanced students are able to engage in grade-appropriate academic instruction in English, although ongoing second language acquisition support is needed to help them understand and use grade-appropriate language. These students function beyond the level of simple, routinely used English.


Advanced High

Advanced high students have attained the command of English that enables them, with minimal second language acquisition support, to engage in regular all-English academic instruction at their grade level. 

Proficiency Level Standards

Performance standards relate levels of test performance directly to what students are expected to learn, as defined in the statewide curriculum. This is accomplished by establishing cut scores that distinguish between performance levels or categories. Standard setting is the process of establishing these cut scores that define the performance levels for an assessment.

For holistically rated assessments, standards are established through descriptions of student performance in the scoring rubrics and student exemplars used in scorer training. For the TELPAS holistically rated assessments, the scoring rubrics are the PLDs in the ELPS. The student exemplars are the student writing collections and student videos used in rater training.

For online tests, standards are established by determining the score students need to obtain to be classified into specified performance categories. For the TELPAS online listening, speaking, and reading tests, the performance categories are the proficiency levels described in the ELPS.  Refer to the Assessment Reports and Studies webpage for information on the TELPAS standard-setting process. 

Proficiency Level Descriptors

Proficiency level descriptors (PLDs) describe how well EB students at each proficiency level can understand and use English to engage in grade-appropriate academic instruction. There are separate PLDs for listening, speaking, reading, and writing.