Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA) FAQ

This guidance answers the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) received by the Ohio Department of Education regarding the OELPA.

 

Consequences of Student Nonparticipation in OELPA

2021 OELPA Administration During the Pandemic

General Questions

OELPA Format and Test Design

Accommodations

Manuals

Test Administration

Practice Test

Test Security

Scoring and Reporting

Technology

Professional Development

Standards


Consequences of Student Nonparticipation in OELPA

    What are the consequences of students’ not taking the OELPA?
    The Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA) is critical to the services schools must provide their English learners. In fact, federal and state education laws require all districts and schools to administer annually a statewide assessment of English language proficiency to all students identified as English learners. If a student does not take the OELPA, there may be consequences for the student, the student’s teachers, and the student’s school and district. The consequences of student nonparticipation in the OELPA are described below.
     

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    What are the consequences for students who do not take the OELPA?
    Students who do not take the OELPA will maintain English learner status if enrolled in school the following year. To exit English learner status, students must satisfy Ohio’s standardized English learner exit criteria by earning a proficient score on the OELPA.
    English learners in grades 9-12 who are pursuing the Ohio Seal of Biliteracy may have one less opportunity to assert their English proficiency on a high school administration of the OELPA if they do not take the assessment.
     

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    What are the consequences for teachers when students do not take the OELPA?
    Teacher evaluations typically do not consider student performance on the OELPA because OELPA results become available after May 1st. However, if local teacher evaluations rely on results from the OELPA, those evaluations may be affected if students do not take the OELPA.
    Additionally, when students do not participate in the OELPA, teachers will have limited information, such as student growth projections, to help inform instruction.
     

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    What are the consequences for districts when students do not take the OELPA?
    Students who do not take the OELPA will continue as English learners the following school year, so a district’s English learner enrollment may be affected when students do not take the test.
     

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2021 OELPA Administration During the Pandemic

    What are the expectations of districts and schools that are providing remote education during the 2021 OELPA test window?

    The expectation is that districts and schools administer the 2021 OELPA to English learners in-person if it can be done safely. There is no remote administration for the OELPA online or paper formats.

    The Ohio Department of Education (Department) emphasizes that districts first and foremost should be attentive to the safety of students and staff. Assessments should occur only if they can be administered safely.

    Districts and schools should plan and communicate a procedure and schedule to safely administer English learners the OELPA in-person. The OELPA is required by state and federal law, and up to this point in time, no legislation has changed these requirements for the 2020-2021 school year.

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    What is the policy when a student will not come in to take the OELPA?
    It is appreciated that there are students who are attending school remotely and may not be in school buildings regularly. The OELPA, however, is administered in-person for both online and paper and oral translations (no remote administration). Thus, districts and schools should plan and communicate a procedure and schedule to safely administer English learners the OELPA in-person. Parental determination relative to safety should be considered and respected. Additional information for schools and districts is available on the Department’s website:

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    What are the current guidelines for administration of the OELPA during the COVID-19 pandemic? 
     
    The Department emphasizes that districts and schools first and foremost should be concerned about the safety of students and staff. Assessments should occur only if they can be safely administered. Safety may be determined locally at the student, teacher, building, district or county level depending on the circumstances. Parental determination relative to safety should be considered and respected
     
    The OELPA is critical to the services schools must provide English learners. To support schools in meeting their obligation of annually assessing all English learners’ English language proficiency with the OELPA, the Department is announcing some changes for this year’s administration:
    • OELPA Test Window Extension. The OELPA test window has been extended by four weeks and will now take place February 1-April 23, 2021. Other important dates are available on the Ohio English Learner Assessment portal.
    • Group Administration of the Speaking Test. The Department will allow districts to administer the 2021 OELPA speaking test to groups of students instead of requiring one-to-one administration of that domain.

      When scheduling administrations, districts should consider that students taking the speaking test will speak their responses aloud. To maintain test validity and security, the speaking test must be administered so that students cannot hear one another and that recordings do not pick up others’ voices. Thus, districts should test students in large quiet spaces and/or in groups as small as the test window and scheduling allow. The Department recommends that schools continue to administer the speaking test, if possible, one-to-one, with one student and one test administrator.
     
    The Test Coordinator Manual and Test Administration Manual have been updated to include the test window extension and group administration of the speaking test. They can be found in the OELPA Resources section of the test portal. 
     
    Additional information about state testing this year is on the Department’s Reset and Restart Education page.

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    Are there suggestions for the 2021 OELPA in-person test administration?
    Districts and schools may choose to: 
    • Schedule appointment times for English learners to test, either individually or in socially distanced groups;
    • Utilize days when other students may not be in the building to bring English learners in to test (for example, if there is one day per week when all students are virtual or if the district is fully virtual);
    • Use alternative locations that may allow for English learners to test in larger groups but remain physically distanced (for example, gymnasiums, auditoriums, cafeterias) as long as the environment is appropriate for testing (for example, quiet, no distractions and away from students who are not testing); and/or
    • Test some English learners in other buildings (for example, at a middle school) when they are not being used for in-person instruction.

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    May districts or schools order OELPA paper tests for English learners attending school remotely?
    No. Remote education is not one of the reasons for approval of the use of paper tests. The Department will approve requests for OELPA paper tests only for these reasons:
    • A student has the paper test listed as an accommodation documented in an IEP or 504 plan; or
    • A student’s religious or cultural beliefs; or
    • A district or school lacks the required technology infrastructure to test students online, including schools that:
      • Are new to state testing and verify a lack of technology to test all students online; or
      • Experience a change in the district’s or school’s technology system that impacts capacity to test all students online.

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    What is a presumptive English learner?
    Presumptive English learners are English learners identified through this school year’s provisional identification procedure, based on the Ohio’s language usage survey and other local resources. Please review the Reset and Restart Education information for School Administrators Serving English Learners and Linguistically Diverse Families for additional information on presumptive English learners and the provisional identification procedure.

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    Should presumptive English learners be coded in the Educational Management Information System (EMIS)?
    Yes. All students identified as English learners—whether by the standard or provisional procedure—should be reported in EMIS using the existing codes for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Status Element (FD170). Please see EMIS Coding for Presumptive English Learners 2020-2021 for more information. For information about the LEP Status Element in EMIS, please refer to the EMIS Manual, Section 2.5 – Student Attributes – Effective Data (FD) Record (p. 12).

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    Must districts administer the OELPA to presumptive English learners?
    Yes. All English learners are administered the OELPA annually. Districts must provide appropriate language instruction services to presumptive English learners and must administer such students the OELPA.

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    If presumptive English learners have not been administered the OELPS, must they be administered the OELPA?
    Yes. All English learners should be administered the OELPA annually. Ideally, districts will administer the OELPS before the OELPA; however, an inability to administer the OELPS before the OELPA does not affect an English learner’s eligibility or requirement to take the OELPA.

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    Are districts required to screen presumptive English learners with the OELPS if they have been administered the 2021 OELPA?
    No. Districts may use the results of the 2021 OELPA to affirm the fact that a student is not proficient and therefore remains an English learner or exit the English learner as proficient if the student scores proficient (with OELPA scores of 4s, 5s or any combination of 4s and 5s).

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    Who can administer the OELPA if test administrators are out sick due to COVID-19?

    First, assessments should occur only if they can be administered safely. Safety may be determined locally at the student, teacher, building, district or county level, depending on the circumstances and in consultation with the local department of health. 

    Secondly, OELPA test administrators must meet the same test administrator criteria as other state tests. Test administrators must be employees of the school district and hold a valid license, certificate or permit issued by the Ohio Department of Education.
    The test administrator may be one of the following:

    ·         Substitute teachers employed by the district;

    ·         An instructional aide or paraprofessional;

    ·         An ESC staff member.

    The test administrator must not be

    ·         Substitute teachers not employed by the district;

    ·         A student teacher;

    ·         A student.

    For complete information about test administrator criteria, please refer to Ohio’s State Test Resource Book (p. 6).

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    Will there be an extension to the OELPA test window?

    The OELPA test window has been an eight-week window for previous administrations. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 OELPA administration has been extended by four weeks. The 2021 test window is now Feb. 1 – April 23. Districts may schedule the OELPA domain tests in any order and may schedule multiple domain tests per day any time during the test window. Districts are encouraged to test early to ensure all English learners are administered the OELPA.

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    May English learners who have previously scored proficient on one or more OELPA domain tests be exempted from having to take those domain tests again this year? For example, a student who scored proficient on the 2020 OELPA speaking test would not have to take the 2021 OELPA speaking test.

    No. “Banking” scores or using superscores is not allowed for the OELPA. Federal guidance explicitly states that the annual assessment of English language proficiency must assess all four language domains (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

    Additionally, the OELPA and OELPS are scored using a multidimensional item response theory (MIRT) model in which every test item contributes to all four domains, with the greatest weight given to items in that domain. 

    An English learner’s scores often fluctuate from year to year. Administering all the domain tests (unless exempted in the IEP or 504 plan) ensures the most valid and reliable assessment of English language proficiency.

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    May a domain exemption be used due to a school or district’s remote educational approach?

    No. Domain exemptions are permitted only for English learners who cannot access the domain test(s) due to a disability. Please review the Department’s domain exemption policy for additional information.
     

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    May the OELPA speaking test be administered to groups of English learners?
    Yes. This year, districts may administer the OELPA speaking tests to groups of students. Previous administrations have required a one-to-one administration of the speaking test.  When scheduling administrations, districts should consider that students taking the speaking test will speak their responses aloud. To maintain test validity and security, the speaking test must be administered so that students cannot hear one another and that recordings do not pick up others’ voices. Thus, districts should test students in large quiet spaces and/or in groups as small as the test window and scheduling allow. Districts administering the speaking test to groups of students could provide students headsets with headphones and microphone to ensure the recordings are audible and clear. If possible, the Department recommends that schools administer the speaking test one-to-one, with one student and one test administrator. 
     

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General Questions

    What is the Ohio English Language Proficiency Assessment (OELPA)?

    The OELPA is an English language proficiency test composed of four tests which measure a student’s English skills in the four language domains: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

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    How was the OELPA developed?

    The OELPA was developed by the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) consortium through a federal Enhanced Assessment Grant. Eight states belong to the consortium: Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia. OELPA is Ohio’s title for the same ELPA21 test administered by the other ELPA states.
     

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    Who takes the OELPA?

    Students enrolled in a public school who have been identified as English learners are required to take the OELPA annually. English learners enrolled in chartered nonpublic schools are not required but may take the OELPA.

    Chartered nonpublic schools that receive Title III funds should consult with the Title III public district to determine whether the OELPA or some other assessment will be used to provide evidence of student progress in the school’s program.
     

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    Do foreign-exchange students have to take the OELPA?
    Foreign-exchange students identified as English learners are required to take the OELPA.
     

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    Is a screener associated with the OELPA?
    Yes, the Ohio English Language Proficiency Screener (OELPS) has been developed as part of the Ohio’s English language proficiency assessment suite. Schools administer the OELPS to identify English learners. Refer to the OELPS webpage for more information.
     

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OELPA Format and Test Design

    What are the grade bands for the OELPA?

    The grade bands are Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grades 2-3, Grades 4-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12. The OELPA grade bands align with the grade bands in the Ohio English Language Proficiency Standards.
     

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    What is the design of the OELPA?

    The OELPA is an online test. Ohio allows OELPA paper tests as an accommodation for specific pre-approved situations. All districts and schools are expected to schedule time and provide technology appropriately for their local situations.

    Beginning with spring 2020, the grades K and 1 writing domain test will be taken by students online and not on paper. All domain tests for all grade bands are assessed online, unless the student, school or district is eligible for paper tests.
     

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    What is the paper test of the OELPA?
    The paper test is a paper-based version of the OELPA. There is no online component in the paper test. The paper test is intended as an accommodation and requires pre-approval from the Ohio Department of Education (Department). The paper test includes all four domain tests: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
     

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    Which situations would allow the use of OELPA paper tests?
    The following are situations where students, districts and schools may be eligible for paper testing:
    • A district or school with students who will require the use of paper tests as an accommodation documented in an IEP or 504 plan or due to a student’s religious beliefs; or
    • A district or school that lacks the required technology infrastructure to test all students online, including schools that:
      • Are new to state testing and verify a lack of technology to test all students online; or
      • Experience a change in the district’s or school’s technology system that impacts capacity to test all students online. 
    Approval of the paper order depends on the district or school submitting a reason in TIDE in the comment box explaining why the district or school needs an exception to online testing. Districts and schools submit paper orders during the on-time paper order window in the fall and the additional order window which is usually open January through the end of March.

     

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    Does the K-1 online writing test require a paper supplement?
    No. The Kindergarten and Grade 1 OELPA no longer includes a paper component. All domain tests including reading, listening and speaking for all grade bands are assessed online unless the student, school or district is eligible for paper tests.

    The K-1 Writing Supplemental Test Booklet was developed to help students who may have difficulty using the keyboard. It is encouraged to have students practice on the keyboard using the OELPA Student Practice Site

     

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    In addition to the paper test, what special versions of the OELPA are available?
    Large print and Braille test booklets are available. Large print is ordered through TIDE. Please go to the TIDE User Guide for a description of TIDE. Braille is ordered through the Ohio Help Desk OHHelpDesk@cambiumassessment.com.

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    If approved for paper administration, what materials are required for the OELPA paper test?
    A paper test is available for grades K-12, including administration manuals, for districts, schools and students who cannot test online. PreID labels are required for the paper tests.
     

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    What kind of items and tasks do students complete when taking the OELPA?

    Item types include multiple-choice, word match, drag and drop, short-constructed response and extended response. Examples of item types for an online test can be found at the Student Practice Site. Items and tasks are similar on the online and paper tests.
     

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Accommodations

    Are translations available for the OELPA?

    No, translations are not available. Students must take the test in English as this is a test to determine the level of English development.

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    Are accommodations available for the OELPA?
    Yes. Please review the OELPA Accessibility Manual for appropriate accommodations on the OELPA. Please review Ohio’s Accessibility Manual for English learner appropriate accommodations on Ohio’s State Tests.

     

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    What is the domain exemption?
    Domain exemptions are available for the OELPA. Districts will register exempted students in TIDE in advance of the test window and will indicate exemptions under test settings and tools in TIDE. The domain exemption must be marked prior to the start of the test. Please see the TIDE User Guide for instructions on manually editing or uploading test settings.

    Please note the exempted domain test(s) will appear in the list of available tests for the student. The test administrator must review the tests and only approve those tests that are not exempted. The student will see the exempted test(s) if the test administrator approves the exempted test(s). If this situation occurs, district test coordinators must submit a test status request to invalidate the exempted test(s) in TIDE.

    Districts may exempt students from no more than three of the four domains or tests on the OELPA if the student’s disability is such that the student cannot participate in the stated domain or test per the individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan with existing accommodations. The domain exemption must be documented on the IEP or 504 plan to be allowed. For example, students with hearing impairments could be exempt from taking the listening domain test; a nonverbal student could be exempt from taking the speaking domain test. An English learner reading below grade level is still a reader and would not qualify for an exemption. Students must complete at least one domain test to count in district participation.

    Students will receive an overall designation of Proficient if they receive 4’s and/or 5’s on all non-exempt domains. Students cannot receive an overall designation of Proficient if any domain is untested in the absence of a valid exemption or invalidated after testing.
     

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Manuals

    Which manuals are available for the OELPA?
    OELPA manuals are posted on the test portal under OELPA Resources except for the Directions for Administration, which is a secure document as it is sent with the paper test materials. There also is a link to the manuals on the OELPA page on the department web page.

    Test Coordinator Manual. Covers policies and procedures for districts and schools administering the OELPA. It is not secure and does not need to be returned;

    Test Administration Manual. This manual is for the online test only – guides the test administrator in log-in procedures and covers general test administration activities for the online test – it is not secure and not required to be returned;

    Directions for Administration. This manual, for the paper test only, includes the script to be read aloud for all students. It is a secure document and must be returned with test materials. It is unavailable on the Department’s website or the test portal;

    Data Entry Interface User Guide. Data Entry Interface User GuideSupports users of the Data Entry Interface (DEI) to enter student responses for the K-12 paper tests;

    Ohio English Language Proficiency Screener and Assessment Accessibility Manual. Presents OELPA accessibility features; and

    Understanding Results Manual  Explains the data used to create the results.

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Test Administration

    What are the dates for the OELPA test administration?

    The OELPA test administration dates are found on the Test Dates webpage. Generally, the OELPA is available in February and March each year.
     

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    In what order do schools administer the four domain tests of the OELPA?

    There is no fixed or required sequence. Districts may administer the four OELPA domain tests in the order of their choice. Many districts schedule the speaking test first since it takes the longest amount of time to administer.
     

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    How must districts and school schedule the four domain tests?

    Districts and schools may schedule and administer the four domain tests in any order within the test window. Domain tests need not be administered on consecutive days, nor all domain tests in the same day.
     

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    May districts administer multiple tests the same day?
    Yes, although it is not recommended as multiple tests in one day may cause undue pressure for the student. However, if districts give multiple tests in one day, test administrators should allow students to take a break between tests to reduce testing fatigue. The test administrator also must ensure that enough time is scheduled so that all tests started are completed on the day they are begun.

     

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    Can districts administer the OELPA to a group of students?
    The listening, speaking, reading and writing tests may be given to students individually or in a group administration.


     

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    May the student start a test on one day and complete the test on another day?
    A student should complete a test on the same day in which it was started. There may be extraordinary circumstances that would cause a student’s test to be stopped. In these cases, the district test coordinator should submit a test status request for a reopen and explain the situation in TIDE. Reopening a test session requires Department approval to resume the test on another day.
     

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    Is it necessary to register the English learners who will take the OELPA?
    Yes. Districts must register or preidentify each English learner in TIDE. Registration places the student in the system and allows the student to access the test. Registration also allows the test administrator to configure test settings and accommodations when necessary.
     

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    Who administers the OELPA?

    A test administrator must meet the following criteria to administer the OELPA:

    • Be an employee of the district or school; and
    • Hold a current license, certificate or permit issued by the Ohio Department of Education.

    The license or certificate is not limited to a teaching license or certificate.

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    How much time should a district or school schedule for the tests?

    The tests are untimed; however, estimates are posted on the OELPA webpage for districts or schools to schedule test time.
     

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    Who are the Department’s assessment vendors?

    The Ohio Department of Education works with Cambium Assessment (formerly American Institutes for Research), Measurement Incorporated (MI) and English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) to administer the OELPA. Cambium Assessment provides the administration resources and reporting of the OELPA.
    Measurement Incorporated prints the paper materials and processes the scoring of the OELPA. ELPA21 is the assessment development vendor.
     

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Practice Test

    What is the OELPA practice test?

    The OELPA practice test is a short version of the OELPA. The OELPA practice test presents the functions and tools of the OELPA. The OELPA practice test is posted on the test portal at the Student Practice Site. The practice test is online only. The practice test is not intended as a content test. Students do not "pass" the practice test.

    The Department recommends giving students as much time for practice as necessary to allow the students to become familiar with the technology skills and functions, and the type of questions the students will experience on the operational OELPA. Some students may need more time or multiple opportunities to practice. In addition, the practice test allows the districts or schools to check the devices that students will use for the operational test.

    The practice test is formatted in four separate tests as is the OELPA. The students will log in and log off for each test, which mirrors the OELPA.
     

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Test Security

    What test security should be followed for the OELPA?

    The OELPA’s four domain tests (listening, reading, writing and speaking) are secure state tests and must follow test security as established in Ohio law and rules. For test security areas, please refer to Ohio’s State Tests Rules Book.
     

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Scoring and Reporting

    How is the OELPA scored?

    For the OELPA online tests, machine-scored student responses are scored immediately when the tests are submitted. The online student constructed responses (written and spoken responses) are hand scored by the Department’s vendor, Measurement Incorporated.

    For the OELPA paper test, test administrators must enter the student responses to all machine-scored items into the Data Entry Interface (DEI) for scoring. Entering machine-scored student responses into the DEI is a manual process that will need to be completed by the test administrator either at the time of testing or soon after testing is completed but before the testing window closes.

    Please note that the OELPA paper tests must be returned to the vendor for hand scoring of constructed-response items once testing is complete. 
     

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    When are OELPA scores and results available?

    The scores are scheduled to be reported no later than 45 days from the last day of the test administration window. Based on the current test window, the results are reported electronically in May. The test dates are posted on the Department webpage.
     

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    Are printed score reports available?

    Yes. There is a printed, color OELPA Family Report which is sent to districts. Districts may print Individual Student Reports from the Online Reporting System (ORS). The Family Reports are sent to districts and schools a few weeks following the electronic reporting of results, usually the first or second week of June. It is the district or school’s responsibility to ensure families receive and understand the OELPA results for their child.

    Translated OELPA Family Reports are posted on the OELPA webpage. To notify English learner parents about their students’ achievements on the OELPA, districts may download the translations to accompany the students’ Family Report in English.
     

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    Can districts manipulate data in the ORS to create their own reports?
    Yes. Districts can configure data to meet their reporting needs. For example, results can be sorted by building or teacher. For more information, refer to the Online Reporting System Quick Guide.

     

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Technology

    Will the same online system be used for the OELPA as Ohio’s State Tests?

    Yes. The Department provides the same online system for the OELPS, the OELPA and Ohio’s State Tests.
     

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    Is there specific information on the secure browser for OELPA?

    Yes. Please review the Online System Requirements on the test portal.
     

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    Do students need a listening device (e.g., earbuds or headphones)?

    Yes. Students will need a listening device as there are audio portions of the listening, reading, writing and speaking tests.

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    Do students need a microphone?

    Yes. Students will need a microphone for the speaking test as there are recorded portions. The students will record their oral responses. Districts and schools can check functionality of their microphones by completing the practice test on the TA Practice Site or the Student Practice Site on the test portal.
     

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    Are there specific functions or characteristics required for the devices?

    Yes. A checklist with information on headsets is available, though use of other headsets is possible. Districts or schools may choose a headset, headphones or earbuds for the students to use. For example, earbuds may be used for the listening, reading and writing tests since students will not record oral responses for those tests. Districts or schools should use the checklist to determine if the headsets, headphones or earbuds they already have will operate on the system.
     

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Professional Development

    On which standards is the OELPA based?

    The OELPA is based on the Ohio English Language Proficiency Standards available on the Department’s website.
     

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    What resources are available in support of the Ohio ELP Standards?

    In developing lesson plans and determining English learners’ progress, teachers may refer to the Ohio Instructional Guidelines and Resources for English Language Learners that exemplify providing access to content so English learners can show what they know and can do. The guide serves as a resource for teachers to inform instruction and support English learners in their development of English language communication skills needed for success in school.
     

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    What materials are available to assist districts administering the OELPA?

    Six Professional Development Modules developed by the ELPA21 states on the English Language Proficiency Standards are available.

    Tutorials on local scoring for the speaking test and on the Data Entry Interface (DEI) are available on the OELPA Resources page on the test portal.

    A webinar on the Test Delivery System for Online Testing is also available on the OELPA Resources page of the test portal.

    Districts that wish to host a presentation using Skype may contact the Office of Assessment at 614-466-1317.
     

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    How can educators help English learners prepare for the OELPA?
    The Ohio English Language Proficiency Standards should be a regular part of teachers’ lesson planning. Teachers should ensure that English learners are familiar with the types of tasks that are found on the OELPA. Achievement Level Descriptors (ALDs) are available for each domain and correspond to each of the performance levels. Educators may use the ALDs to differentiate instruction and interventions to meet the individual needs of English learners. The ALDs describe what an English learner can do in relation to skills measured by and demonstrated on the OELPA. The ALDs can be found on the OELPA Resources page on the test portal.
     

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Standards

Last Modified: 8/2/2021 10:35:05 AM