Arizona English Language Proficiency Standards

Instructor: Eric Campos

Eric has tutored in English, writing, history, and other subjects.

To ensure English language learners have a strong foundation in the English language, Arizona developed language proficiency standards to assess skill level and steer student development. Read on to learn about these language proficiency standards and how they impact learning.

Purpose of the Arizona English Language Proficiency Standards

As in many other states, Arizona educators realized that a strong grasp of the English language is crucial for a student's academic and occupational success in this country. As more English language learners have entered schools, educators have developed proficiency standards to gauge how students' language skills are developing. The goal of these standards is to highlight key areas of language development that students will need to master in order to become fully proficient in English as soon as possible.

The standards are arranged into five stages that correspond to certain K-12 grade levels and are formed around the core components, or domains, of the English language. The domains reflect a broad scope of the language, focusing on student understanding and practical application.

English Language Proficiency Domains

Within these domains are individual standards that detail specific competencies and skills. However, the exact scope of expectations varies depending on grade level and proficiency level. Here are the 4 domains and their primary standards.

Domain Standards
Listening and Speaking Comprehension and delivery of the spoken word
Reading Understanding of print concepts, an awareness of phonemes, standard fluency, comprehension of text
Writing Awareness of standard English conventions, writing applications, the writing process, writing elements, and research
Language Strand Understanding of standard English conventions and vocabulary

Performance Indicators

The standards in each domain are accompanied by performance indicators. The performance indicators highlight the skills, knowledge, and abilities a student is expected to exhibit. The complexity and depth of a performance indicator are influenced by the particular grade and proficiency level (which is explained below). As students develop through grade levels, they are expected to progress onto harder lessons. Therefore, the performance indicators simultaneously indicate a growing skill level, while preparing English language learners for more rigorous curriculum.

Proficiency Level Descriptors

In addition to grade level, performance indicators for each of the standards are organized by proficiency level descriptors that quantify a student's grasp of English as a whole. The descriptors are: pre-emergent, emergent, basic, low intermediate, high intermediate, and proficient.

Once a student's proficiency level has been determined through an annual standardized test, teachers can use these descriptors as a base on which to begin instruction. By understanding an individual's grasp of English, lessons can be tailored to address what he or she needs in order to continue development.

When performance indicators are satisfied in a particular level, a student is ready to undertake more advanced levels of English language instruction. The student then moves up in proficiency level descriptor.

Sample Standard

Let's look at an example of one of the listening and speaking standards for stage 5 (grades 9-12). The table below will show the proficiency levels and corresponding performance indicators for the standard measuring students' ability to understand the spoken word.

Pre-Emergent Discern the difference between a word pair's first and last phonemes (example: bad vs bat)
Emergent Distinguish between a word pair's middle phonemes (example: pin vs pan)
Basic Understand the difference between individual phonemes found in small phrases, as well as word pairs (example: the fat rat vs the fat bat)
Low Intermediate Identify individual phonemes in short sentences and phrases (example: The case is there. vs The vase is there.)
High Intermediate Recognize individual phonemes in sentences and phrases (The concept remains the same, but students are expected perform the task with greater proficiency.)

Additional ELL Resources

As you delve into teaching English, can give you tools to help your ELL students meet the proficiency standards and expand their English language skills:

Each course is equipped with transcripts, video lessons, and practice quizzes to ensure your students are grasping the material. Our courses are also accessible on all mobile devices, enabling you to access learning materials at any location and time.

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