Placement Test FAQ
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Washington Language Proficiency Test II

WELPA Placement Test Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is the name of this test?
This test is called the Washington English Language Proficiency Assessment Placement Test or WELPA Placement Test.

What are the grade bands for the WELPA Placement Test?
There are five grade bands for student booklets:

  • K & 1
  • 2 & 3
  • 4 & 5
  • 6 through 8
  • 9 through 12
There are two Directions for Administration, for K-5 and for 6-12.

Is there a cost to districts for copies of the Placement Test?
Districts’ baseline amounts listed on WAMS are available at no cost. Additional orders, however, will generate a cost to districts.

Is the Placement Test offered in Braille or large print?
At this time, it is not offered in large print; contact the Assessment Office at OSPI for assistance regarding large print materials, 360-725-6348 or email Braille kits can be ordered by contacting CTB/McGraw-Hill Customer Support Center at (800) 560-2667 or

Can the test be signed using ASL or SEE?
Deaf and hard of hearing students can qualify for the TBIP based on an administrative decision. Contact your OSPI bilingual program supervisor for additional information, at 360-725-6147.

Is the WELPA Placement Test a secure test?
Yes. Test proctors, school assessment coordinators and district assessment coordinators must follow security protocols outlined in the Washington State Assessment Coordinators Manual.

Do districts report the names of trainers and test proctors?
All test proctors must sign a Test Security Assurance Form that is collected by the school assessment coordinator. They also sign the Test Proctor/Administrator/Staff Training Log each year, attesting that they have attended training for the current school year. The District Assessment Coordinator will collect and keep the School Site Administration and Security Reports and submit District Administration and Security Reports to OSPI.

When is the Placement Test Administered?

When are students given the Placement Test?
Students must be tested within ten days of attendance in a Washington State school. Entering kindergartners may be tested as early as May 1 preceding their attendance in the fall.

Home Language Survey and Parent Notification

Which students take the WELPA Placement Test?
If students’ or their families’ response to either question #2 or #3 on the state’s Home Language Survey is a language other than English, the students are potential English language learners. In order to determine if these students are English language learners, the students must take the WELPA Placement Test.

The Home Language Survey is available in 37 languages.

2. What language did your child first learn to speak?*
3. What language does YOUR CHILD use the most at home?*

What notification must be given to families regarding the WELPA Placement Test?
If students score at Levels 1, 2, or 3 on the WELPA Placement Test, families must be notified within 30 days of attendance of their child’s placement in the district’s English Language Development Program. Notifications are available in 36 languages.

Administering the Test

Do test proctors have to be trained?
Yes. The district assessment coordinator (DAC) is responsible for training school administrators, school assessment coordinators, test proctors, scribes, persons assisting with sign language and persons assisting with processing secure test materials before the test administration. Proctors must also attend a refresher training each year.

Can volunteers proctor the test?
No. Volunteers may not administer or assist in the administration of any state assessments. They are not permitted to assist with handling secure test material. Volunteers may assist in the supervision of students who need a break or have completed testing.

Does the Placement Test need to be given in one sitting, or can portions of the test be given on different days?
The Placement Test is estimated to take 25 – 30 minutes in all to administer; students can complete all subtests in one sitting. However, it is up to the district to determine a test schedule that allows students to complete each subtest the same day it was begun.

Could the Speaking subtest be completed before other subtests?
Yes. Districts can administer subtests in whatever order they prefer.

Can directions be paraphrased, explained, or given in a language other than English?
No. Directions must be read VERBATIM.

Can directions, item stems, and options be repeated?
Follow the script in the Directions for Administration exactly and note that, unlike the Annual Test, there are specific prohibitions against repeating directions and/or item parts in much of the Placement Test.

May students be asked to repeat a response?
Yes. Students may be asked to repeat a response to a Speaking item if the proctor could not hear what was said.

May student responses to Speaking items be recorded for scoring?
Yes. This will help proctors confirm that the correct scores have been assigned. Trained proctors can listen together to recorded responses to assure standardization of scoring.

Must students respond to every item?
In order to determine eligibility for ELD services, students should have the opportunity to respond to each item. Proctors can assist students by redirecting them to the next item(s) after a reasonable period of time.

How much time should a student have to respond?
The WELPA Placement Test is untimed. For Speaking items, the proctor should wait five seconds for a response and then move on to the next item. For other items, students who remain productively engaged in the assessment should be allowed to finish their work.

Which Students?

Is the Placement Test to be used only for new students?
The Placement Test is to be given to establish a student’s initial eligibility for English Language Development (ELD) services as determined by the State Transitional Bilingual Instructional Program (STBIP), and for identifying Native American students for Title III services.

Do we test students who transfer from other states?
Yes. All students who transfer from other states and who indicate on the Home Language Survey that a language other than English is their primary language must be tested with the WELPA Placement Test, even if they were identified or exited ELLs in the other states.

If a student qualified for ELD services in Washington State, left the state and then returned, will the student need to be re-tested for program eligibility?
If a Placement Test was administered within a year of re-entry, then re-testing is not required. If the absence from the state exceeds that period, then the student must be re-tested. For example, if the student leaves in March 2013 and returns in April 2014, the student would be re-tested with the WELPA Placement Test.

What happens if a student is tested for placement in two different Washington districts?
The first test given is used to determine program eligibility, and the second is invalidated.

If a student takes the Placement Test, does he/she need to take the Annual Test?
Students who qualify for ELD services based on Placement Test results must also take the Annual Test.

Do we test foreign exchange students?
Districts are required to follow the same ELL identification procedures for all students, including foreign exchange students.

Scoring the Placement Test

Which items are locally scored?
All Placement Test items are locally scored. Test proctors must attend training sessions and demonstrate understanding of scoring rubrics in order to score Speaking and Writing responses.

What if the student’s response is in a language other than English?
The WELPA Placement Test is a measure of English knowledge and skills. Responses to items in a language other than English earn a score of zero (0).

Where are scores reported?
Scores for every student who took a Placement Test must be entered in CEDARS (Comprehensive Education Data and Research System). A copy of the Student Results Sheet should be filed in the each student’s cumulative record at the district level.

Additional Information

How long do districts retain the scored Placement Test books?
School Assessment Coordinators keep scored placement test books in a locked, secured area to check the accuracy of the scores as well as to respond to family requests to view their child’s placement test results, until the administration of the following Annual Test is complete. Then School Assessment Coordinators will dispose of scored Placement Tests according to the district’s plan for secure materials.

Where is additional information about ELD services to be found?
Refer to the Guidelines for the Washington State Transitional Bilingual Instruction Program and other program-related guidance at

Where is information about testing accommodations for ELLs to be found?
Refer to the Access Supports and Accommmodations Guidelines for State Assessments (2013-14) (PDF).


   Updated 9/24/2015

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