TELPAS Alternate Proficiency Standards

English Language Proficiency Level Definitions

TELPAS Alternate assesses the English language proficiency of emergent bilingual (EB) students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades 2–12 in four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The five proficiency levels are awareness, imitation, early independence, developing independence, and basic fluency.

The proficiency level definitions are as follows:



Students who receive this rating may be aware of English sounds or print; however, they have little or no functional ability to participate in communication activities in English.



Students who receive this rating match, imitate, or approximate some English in their environment; however, they are not able to independently understand or produce English. They participate in routine communication activities in a familiar environment when the activities are significantly linguistically accommodated.


Early Independence

Students who receive this rating understand short, simple messages and produce messages of one or two high-need, high-frequency words (e.g., book, cafeteria, teacher).  They are starting to participate in linguistically accommodated communication activities in English in familiar environments.


Developing Independence

Students who receive this rating understand longer messages of multiple sentences in English and produce simple, descriptive, original messages by combining two or more words (e.g., new red bike, big fast truck). They participate meaningfully in linguistically accommodated communication activities in familiar environments.


Basic Fluency

Students who receive this rating understand and produce more detailed, complex, and elaborate messages with multiple sentences in English. These students participate independently in communication activities in familiar environments.

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.

TELPAS Alternate is a holistic inventory that includes 40 descriptions of behaviors, called Observable Behaviors. Each Observable Behavior describes characteristics that students with significant cognitive disabilities learning English demonstrate as they gain proficiency. Performance levels are established by converting the number of total points scored on the Observable Behaviors to a scale score.

Refer to 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.