What Are The TELPAS Language Proficiency Levels?

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) charts the progress of students learning the English language. Read on for a detailed description of the various levels included in this system.

TELPAS Language Proficiency Levels

The Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS) was designed to ensure curricula is helping ESL students meet the state's English language proficiency standards.

This system monitors K-12 students' improvement using four language proficiency levels, which are as follows: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced High. At each level, individual proficiency descriptors are provided for listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. After a series of yearly assessments, students receive a proficiency ranking for each of these domains as well as a comprehensive ranking.


Students at this level have only a rudimentary grasp of the English language, or no grasp at all. These students usually have trouble identifying individual words or phrases and will typically struggle to engage in any sort of conversation. Moreover, they often fail to comprehend even the most basic academic lectures and do not have the writing skills necessary to complete activities in which they are required to express their ideas. When these students encounter difficulties, they are usually unable (or unwilling) to ask for clarification in English.


The next step up, this level is for students who have a basic command of the English language. These students can communicate well enough to get by in everyday academic and social situations, although their skills are usually not at a grade-appropriate level. Students at this level can understand simple commands and instructions. They can also express themselves through the use of basic vocabulary and sentence structures when writing, though they can understand only the most commonly used words in written texts. However, they are able to ask for clarification in English if they do not understand a concept.


This level is reserved for students who can perform grade-appropriate tasks with the support of ESL services. These students possess high-level skills and are mostly self-reliant, but they may at times require a speaker to repeat an instruction or provide verbal cues or gestures to help them understand a concept. Even without assistance, these students are generally very competent readers and speakers who are able to understand longer phrases and sentences. They are also able to fully participate in class writing assignments provided they receive help tackling more challenging topics.

Advanced High

This level is similar to the 'advanced' category, with the primary difference being the amount of assistance that a student requires in order to perform and complete grade-appropriate assignments. Unlike students at the level directly below them, these top-tier students require little or no assistance when performing classwork. They are extremely self-sufficient and will rarely need to ask for help or require additional aids, such as visuals or verbal cues, when encountering written or spoken material. These students are also excellent speakers and are able to complete grade-appropriate writing assignments. They typically encounter very few, if any, problems in comprehension.

Resources for English Language Learners has a number of resources that can be of great use to students who are learning the English language or enrolled in an ESL program.

These Grammar Resources for ELL Students and English Grammar Rules courses provide a thorough review of fundamental grammatical concepts that ELL students will need in order to improve their command of English.

If you're a teacher and need help reaching your ELL students, this Resources for Teaching English Language Learners course contains plenty of helpful ideas and tips to get you started.

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