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Proficiency Level Definitions

The TELPAS reading proficiency levels are described below. The definitions reflect second language acquisition research, national and state standards, and the practical experience of Texas educators. Each proficiency level marks a stage of second language development. Students proceed from one proficiency level to the next regardless of whether they begin to learn English in elementary school or at an older age. Beginning Level of Reading Proficiency. Students at this level are typically new to the English language. They have little or no ability to derive meaning from English text. They generally understand very little English and tend to read very slowly and word by word. In order to figure out the meaning of what they read, they rely heavily on previous knowledge of the topic, the small bank of English words and phrases they have learned, and information from pictures. Because their English is so limited, their comprehension quickly breaks down when they try to read English in authentic social and academic contexts. Intermediate Level of Reading Proficiency. Students at this level have a somewhat larger English vocabulary and a basic sense of simple English language structures. However, they tend to interpret English very literally and have difficulty following story lines that have a surprise twist or nonstandard format. They still rely heavily on what they already know about a topic to confirm meaning and increase comprehension, and pictures that illustrate meaning are still a needed support. Students at this level can read and understand short connected texts on familiar topics when high-frequency English is used. They have difficulty reading and understanding materials written for their grade level. Advanced Level of Reading Proficiency. Students at this level have an emerging gradeappropriate reading vocabulary and a grasp of the structure and grammatical features of the English language. They have the ability to read grade-level texts with some success, although second language acquisition support is still needed to help them understand language that is typically familiar to native English-speaking peers. With linguistic support these students can often demonstrate comprehension of main and supporting ideas on topics they know little about. Additionally, they can often understand English beyond its literal meaning, and they have an emerging ability to think analytically to build conceptual understanding as they read grade-level materials in English. Advanced High Level of Reading Proficiency. Students at this level have the ability to read and understand, with minimal support related to second language acquisition, grade-appropriate English used in academic and social contexts, with some exceptions when low-frequency or specialized vocabulary is used. With minimal visual and textual support and at a level nearly comparable to their native English-speaking peers, they are able to understand both explicit and implicit ideas, think analytically, and build conceptual understanding as they read grade-level materials in English.

From: TELPAS Reading Information Booklet Chapter 2: Test Design 5

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