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English Learners

San José Unified is proud of its expansive student population who come from a variety of countries and speak a diverse number of home languages. That diversity brings cultural and linguistic richness to our school communities. We are committed to providing English Learners with meaningful access to educational programs and supports as they work towards English language acquisition.

Students are identified as English Learners if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • The home language selected is anything other than English at the time of enrollment in San José Unified
  • They were born outside of the United States and have not attended school in any state for more than three years

English Learner Evaluation

The English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC) is the state’s test to determine English language proficiency. An initial assessment is administered to all newly enrolled students in California public schools whose primary language on the home language survey is not English.

The initial ELPAC assesses proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing and identifies English Learners who need development in those skills. Previously identified English Learners will take the summative ELPAC assessment until they meet the reclassification criteria and are Reclassified as Fluent English Proficient (RFEP). Typical language acquisition takes 5-7 years. Students are evaluated annually and are redesignated when they achieve fluency. 

Initial Alternative and Summative Alternate ELPAC are available for English Learners with an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Please discuss assessment and reclassification opportunities with your child’s IEP team.

EL Master Plan

English Language Development

Students receive English language instruction in two types of classes: Designated English Language Development and Integrated English Language Development. All San José Unified teachers of English Learners hold the appropriate credentials.

  • Designated ELD – Instruction provided during a specific time in the regular school day for focused instruction on the state-adopted ELD standards to assist English learners to develop critical English language skills necessary for academic content learning in English.
  • Integrated ELD – Instruction in which the state-adopted ELD standards are used in tandem with the state-adopted academic content standards. Integrated ELD includes specially designed academic instruction in English.

Expectations for English Language Development

On average it takes a child between five and seven years to develop oral and academic English proficiency. Positive and meaningful gains in language acquisition can be made early on and the summative ELPAC can become increasingly challenging after elementary school. San José Unified is committed to English language instruction that ensures that English Learners acquire full proficiency as rapidly and effectively as possible to attain parity with native English speakers and achieve the same, rigorous grade-level academic standards that are expected of all students within a reasonable period of time.

Language Programs

San José Unified offers additional language programs which are designed to help students acquire fluent literacy skills. Please visit the TWBI page for information about our Two-Way Bilingual Immersion program.