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Identification of English Learners (ELs)

EL Entry Overview


  1. All students are administered a Home Language Survey (HLS) at the time of enrollment (PI 13.06).
  2. Students indicated as potential ELs by the HLS are administered an English Language Proficiency (ELP) screener.
  3. Using the results of the ELP screener and other measures, the school determines if students are eligible to receive EL services.
  4. Students eligible for EL services are coded with an ELP code of 1­5 in ISES (based on their screener score). Students not eligible for EL services are coded with an ELP code of 7 in ISES

EL Entry in Detail


Step 1. Home Language Survey


A Home Language Survey (HLS) is a series of questions asked of all parents/guardians at the time of enrollment. These questions are designed to determine if a student is exposed to or uses a language other than English at home. The core assumption is that if a student is not exposed to a language other than English at home, they are not likely to be an EL. However, if a student is exposed to or uses a language other than English at home, they are much more likely to require EL services.

School districts are required to identify ELs using a HLS at the time of enrollment. The US Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights have provided guidance on what questions should be asked, what questions are inappropriate, and how to appropriately use a HLS to ensure the civil rights of students and parents. See our Home Language Survey page for additional information.

Step 2. ELP Screener


DPI makes the W­APT (for kindergartners) and the WIDA Screener (for grades 1-12) freely available to public schools in the state of Wisconsin. Please see the DPI OSA ELP Screener page.

Step 3. EL Determination

As with any assessment, ELP assessments only provide a limited window into a student's abilities on a particular day at a particular time. Due to the importance of providing adequate support to students, other measures such as academic achievement, classroom observations, parent conferences, etc., should be taken into account along with ELP Screener results when making a determination on whether or not a student is eligible for EL services.

In general, students scoring less than a 6.0 on the overall composite score on the W­APT (or WIDA Screener in spring 2016) or MODEL should be considered for EL services.

(The kindergarten W­APT does not return an overall composite score. See the OSA Assessment page on ELP Screeners for information on interpreting these results.)

If the HLS did not indicate a need for screening, or if a student was screened and showed a high level of ELP on the screener, it is likely that they do not qualify for EL services. However, even if this is the case, if other measures indicate that the student may need EL services, the district may offer EL services if there is strong evidence of need.

Step 4. EL Coding in WISEdata


For students whom you determined are NOT EL, enter 7 for the ELP code in WISEdata.

For students whom you determine ARE EL, enter the truncated (3.7 ­> 3, 2.2 ­> 2, e.g.) ELP Screener score they received for the ELP code in WISEdata.

A description of the EL codes can be found on the WISEdata data elements page.



For questions about this information, contact Audrey Lesondak (608) 266-7292