English Language Learners

Identification of Students

Upon enrollment, parents must complete a Primary Home Language Other Than English (PHLOTE) form to identify a student's primary language. If any of the three questions on the form or the district enrollment form are answered with any language other than English, the student must be assessed using the state-approved English language proficiency assessment. A student's English proficiency level is measured using the Arizona English Language Learner Assessment (AZELLA).  If the results of the assessment indicate that the student is NOT proficient in English, then he or she qualifies for English Language Learner (ELL) services.

AZELLA Proficiency Levels

The chart below contains the AZELLA proficiency levels and a brief description of the student’s language development at each level.

Proficiency Levels




Students at this level lack the English skills needed to communicate. These students do not demonstrate sufficient skills in English to access mainstream curriculum.


Students at this level have a limited understanding of spoken social English. Students may understand slower speech, and be able to speak, read, and write simple words and phrases, but often make grammatical mistakes.


Students at this level have a moderate understanding of spoken social English, but are limited in their understanding of academic English. Students respond orally with simple sentences and demonstrate an understanding of basic written conventions.


Students at this level consistently understand social and academic English. Students can read and understand grade level texts and conversations at a normal speed, and can speak and write fluently with minor errors.

ELL Services

Students who qualify for ELL services receive English Language Development instruction. This includes instruction in pronunciation (phonology), word building blocks (morphology), word order (syntax), and vocabulary (lexicon and semantics). Students are grouped by language proficiency level and taught by highly-qualified teachers. Students receive daily instruction in English in the areas of reading, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary, and grammar.

Annual Reassessment

All English Language Learners are reassessed with the AZELLA annually, during the spring testing window which is usually mid-February through late March. Students are reassessed annually until they score proficient on the assessment.

What Happens When My Student Becomes Proficient?

When a student scores “Proficient” on the AZELLA, he or she has attained the English language proficiency level necessary to be exited from the ELL program. You will receive a reclassification letter notifying you that your student is proficient and has exited the ELL program. The student will be monitored for two years following his or her exit from the ELL program to ensure continued academic success.