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English Language Development

California State Testing

California English Language Development Test (CELDT): Information for Parents and Guardians
(Spanish Information below)

What is the California English Language Development Test (CELDT)?
Federal and state laws require that school districts must give a state test to students whose primary home language is not English.  In California, this test is called the California English Language Development Test (CEDLT).

What is the purpose of the CELDT?
The purpose of this test is to:

  • Identify English learners in Kindergarten through Grade 12
  • Measure their skill level in English
  • Check their progress in learning English each year.

Who is an English learner?

An English learner is a student with a primary language other than English who needs extra instruction to learn the skills in English required for success in the regular school program.

Who must take the CELDT?
All students in kindergarten through grade twelve, whose primary language is not English, must take the CELDT.  These students must take the test within 30 calendar days after they start at a California public school for the first time.  The CELDT also must be given once each year to English learners until they have learned the skills in English needed to complete their schoolwork.

Do English learners with disabilities take the CELDT?
Yes.  All English learners must take the CELDT.  This includes English learners with disabilities.  Students who have disabilities and cannot take the entire CELDT, or a section of the test may be tested with special assistance and/or take alternate tests.  All assistance or alternate testing must be noted in their individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 Plans.

What does the CELDT cover?
The CELDT covers listening, speaking, reading and writing for all grades tested.  The CELDT is based on the California English language development standards, adopted by the State Board of Education.

Who gives the CELDT?
Only trained staff can give the test.  In kindergarten, all parts of the test are given to each student one at a time.  In grade one, the Speaking, Reading, and Writing sections are given to each student one at a time.  However, the Listening section may be given to groups of students.  In grades two through twelve, the Speaking section of the CELDT is given to each student one at a time, and the rest of the test is given to groups of students.

How long does it take for students to complete the CELDT?
The CELDT is not a timed test.  In kindergarten and grade one, each section of the test takes about 15 to 30 minutes for each student to complete.  In grades two through twelve, the Speaking section takes about 10 – 15 minutes to complete.  The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections combined take about two hours.  The Writing section may be divided into two sessions.

How are the CELDT results reported for each student?
There are five performance levels that a student can achieve.  These levels are: Beginning, Early intermediate, Intermediate, Early Advanced and Advanced. The report of results for each student gives: 

  • The overall performance level and score
  • A performance level and score for each section of the test
  • A comprehension score (average score for Listening and Reading)

How are the results of the CELDT used?
Results from initial CELDT testing are used to help identity English learners who need to develop their skills in English.  Results from annual CELDT testing are used to monitor the progress of these students toward learning English.  School districts also use annual CELDT results as one of four measures to help decide when students may be reclassified as fluent English proficient (R-FEP).

What other information is used to decide when students may be reclassified?
Other information used by the school district includes results on a statewide basic skills test in English (such as the California English Language Arts Standards Test), teacher evaluation, and parent input.

How can parent or guardians find out more about CELDT or their child's results?
Parents or guardians who want to find out more about the CELDT or their child’s CELDT results should contact their child’s teacher and/or school office. More information about CELDT can be found on the California Department of Education CELDT Resources Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/el/resources.asp.


The Smarter Balanced Assessments have taken the place of the STAR tests.  Click here for more information.