English Learner Programs

San Diego Unified School District offers several programs for students who are English learners. In all of the programs, English learners receive concentrated instruction in the use of the English language that is appropriate for their grade and English language proficiency level. Such instruction must be provided by a teacher with training in special strategies to help students increase their English proficiency and learn academic subjects taught in English. At Birney Elementary we value all languages. We look for every opportunity to support and celebrate languages and dialects spoken in our students' homes. We encourage families to maintain and continue listening and speaking their home language and whenever possible, support continued studies to read and write as well. It is our hope that all students become multi-lingual as they continue their education and develop their international-mindedness throughout the International Baccalaureate Pathway in the San Diego Cluster. 


San Diego Unified School District's instructional framework for supporting English learners is based on current research related to effective instructional practices for second language learners. The following guiding principles, as defined by the ELA/ELD Framework, provide a compass for our work:

  • Schooling should help students achieve their highest potential.
  • The responsibility for learners' literacy and language development is shared.
  • ELA/literacy and ELD curricula should be well designed, comprehensive, and integrated.
  • Effective teaching is essential to student success.
  • Motivation and engagement play crucial roles in learning.


California State law requires that all English learners at the Elementary level are placed in an English language acquisition program that is appropriate for their grade and English proficiency level. The types of programs include:

  • Structured English Immersion (SEI) designed for ELs who are new to English or at the early levels of English proficiency.
  • English Language Mainstream (ELM) designed for ELs who have acquired reasonable fluency in English and are at higher levels of proficiency.


Designated State and federal law require that school dsitricts adminster a state test of English language proficiency to eligible students in kindergarten through grade twelve.The California Department of Education (CDE) has transitioned from CELDT to the ELPAC as the state English language proficiency assessment by the starting in 2018.The ELPAC is aligned to the 2012 California English Language Development Standards.It will be comprised of two separate assessments: one for initial identificatoin of students as English learners (ELs), and a second for the annual summative assessment to measure student progress in learning English and to identify students' level of English language proficiency. 

ELPAC Practice Test Flyer (http://www.elpac.org/resources/practicetests/)

Reclassification Fluent English Proficiency Reclassification is the process whereby a student is reclassified from English learner status to fluent English proficient (RFEP) status.
Educators use multiple criteria in determining whether to reclassify a pupil as fluent English proficient, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

  1. Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument, including, but not limited to, the English language development test that is developed or acquired pursuant to Section 60810.
  2. Teacher evaluation, including, but not limited to, a review of the pupil's curriculum mastery.
  3. Parental opinion and consultation.
  4. Comparison of the performance of the pupil in basic skills against an empirically established range of performance in basic skills based upon the performance of English proficient pupils of the same age, that demonstrates whether the pupil is sufficiently proficient in English to participate effectively in a curriculum designed for pupils of the same age whose native language is English.

Parent Resources - ELPAC Starting Smarter Website
ELPAC Parent Guide (Arabic)
ELPAC Parent Guide (Vietnamese)
ELPAC Parent Guide (Tagalog)
Parent Guide (Spanish)
Additional translations of Parent Guide to Understanding the ELPAC  https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ep/elpacparentguide.asp
Practice Tests

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