How to Celebrate English Language Proficiency Growth

Educators across the United States must administer an English language development assessment to multilingual learners each school year. Many states use an English language proficiency assessment to measure school effectiveness in serving multilingual learners. For this reason, the importance of this test is prompting educators to find ways to celebrate English language growth.

English Language Proficiency Tests

An English language proficiency assessment monitors language proficiency progress in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Different states use different English language assessments. For instance, 41 states currently use a well-known assessment called WIDA ACCESS for ELs. Other states use their own assessments; New York uses the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), California uses the state of California uses the ELPAC state test for English language proficiency (ELP), and Texas uses the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS).

Upon registration and completion of the home language survey, English learners are tested for different reasons. A screener identifies students as English language learners, while an annual test measures English language progress.

Use of Annual Assessment Results

States utilize the results of annual assessments to monitor the progress of English learners, with some incorporating these results into school accountability measures or report cards. Additionally, certain states prioritize English learners’ academic performance by integrating student growth into their school accountability report cards. Below are various ways in which states utilize English language proficiency results.

School Accountability

Measuring a school’s accountability often includes assessing the English language proficiency of its English learner population. As a result, states evaluate the performance and progress of English learners in English language proficiency assessments to determine how well these students are performing and advancing in their English language skills.

English language proficiency is part of the school-wide report card in some states. For instance, English language proficiency is assigned a percentage gained when a certain percentage of students meet their language proficiency goals. A school can also lose a portion if insufficient students meet their language proficiency goal. These percentages vary by state and are available on a state’s Department of Education website.

ESOL Teacher Accountability

One way schools measure teacher effectiveness is by using annual test scores for accountability purposes. For instance, the WIDA ACCESS for ELs scale scores measures student language growth from year to year. In addition, WIDA provides school frequency and student grade-level reports to communicate school-wide and grade-level performance. These reports communicate student language performance for the current year.

Teachers of English learners use the annual ACCESS scores to assess student performance and set specific goals for improvement. For instance, an ESOL teacher’s evaluation might include a performance goal specifying that students should achieve a certain percentage of growth in listening, speaking, reading, writing, or overall scale score performance from one school year to the next.

Determine Student Eligibility

The annual English language assessment results determine eligibility as an English language learner. Each state’s cut score varies to determine a student’s eligibility. In most states, an overall or composite score determines whether a student qualifies as an English learner or when a student is ready to transition out of such services. Some states use other criteria, such as other assessment performance and grades, to transition students from English learner status.

How to Celebrate English Language Proficiency Growth

Teachers of English learners commonly express concerns about the varying levels of effort exhibited by some students during test completion. This lack of effort may stem from students not fully grasping the test’s significance or, in certain instances, from a lack of confidence impacting their performance. Addressing these factors is crucial in supporting students in performing optimally on assessments.

When students don’t understand the importance of a test, they may not put forth their best effort because they don’t see the relevance or potential impact on their academic progress. This lack of understanding could be due to various reasons, such as language barriers, cultural differences, or a lack of clear communication about the purpose of the assessment.

Additionally, some students may struggle with confidence issues, particularly if they feel unsure about their language skills or if they’ve had negative experiences with testing in the past. This lack of confidence can lead to anxiety and apprehension, which in turn can affect their performance on the test.

To address these challenges, teachers can take proactive steps to help students understand the importance of assessments, providing clear explanations of how test results can guide instruction and support their learning goals. Building students’ confidence through positive reinforcement, encouragement, and targeted support can also help mitigate anxiety and increase their motivation to perform well on assessments. Creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment where students feel valued and empowered to express themselves can further contribute to their overall success.

What can ESL teachers celebrate?

Teachers and schools can celebrate students’ progress toward their English language proficiency goal. Growth is a milestone that we should celebrate to encourage students to continue to give their best during the test. We must celebrate growth, knowing that learning a language is a process that takes time. We should also know that not every English learner is ready to transition from EL services.

To celebrate growth, schools can calculate and monitor proficiency progress by calculating the percentage of growth students make from one year to the next. For example, in my district, we use 80% growth. Any student who grows 80% or higher is celebrated and recognized.

Reaching the ultimate goal of “exiting” or transitioning out of English learner (EL) services is a significant milestone that deserves celebration for several reasons:

Achievement of Language Proficiency

Exiting EL services signifies that a student has achieved sufficient English language proficiency to participate in mainstream academic instruction without additional language support fully. This achievement reflects the student’s dedication, hard work, and progress in mastering a new language, which is commendable and worthy of celebration.

Educational Equity and Access

Exiting EL services represents an important step towards achieving educational equity and ensuring all students have equal access to high-quality education. By attaining English language proficiency, students are better equipped to access grade-level content, engage in classroom discussions, and succeed academically alongside their peers.

Empowerment and Self-Efficacy

For students, transitioning out of EL services can be a transformative experience that boosts their confidence, self-esteem, and sense of belonging. It demonstrates to students that their efforts have paid off and that they can overcome language barriers to succeed academically. Celebrating this achievement reinforces students’ belief in their abilities and empowers them to set and pursue ambitious goals in their educational journey.

Recognition of Progress

Celebrating students who reach the ultimate state-designated score acknowledges and honors their language acquisition and growth journey. It recognizes their incremental progress from their initial proficiency level to reaching the required standard for exiting EL services. This recognition fosters a culture of appreciation for students’ efforts and achievements, motivating them to continue striving for excellence in their academic pursuits.

Celebrating the milestone of transitioning out of EL services is a way to recognize individual student achievements and an opportunity to promote educational equity, empower students, and foster a supportive and inclusive school environment. It sends a powerful message that the school community values and celebrates every student’s journey and success.

We should celebrate the importance of both landmarks just like schools and states celebrate and recognize making progress in benchmark and state testing.

Why Celebrate English Language Proficiency Progress

While some schools already celebrate student progress in English language proficiency, there is a need for broader recognition of its importance.

Motivation and Engagement

Celebrating student progress boosts motivation and engagement by acknowledging their hard work and achievements. When students feel recognized and appreciated for their efforts in learning a new language, they are more likely to remain motivated and actively participate in their language development.

Positive Learning Environment

Recognition of student progress fosters a positive and supportive learning environment where students feel valued and encouraged to take risks in their language learning journey. This positive atmosphere increases confidence, self-esteem, and overall well-being among students.

Celebrating student progress shows students the importance of the English language proficiency test and how valuable their performance is in school. Additionally, the celebration can guide other teachers on how important this test is for students and school accountability. Finally, recognizing students who make progress can spark more interest in classmates who may not show as much interest in performing well on the test.

Teacher Morale and Collaboration

Teachers derive satisfaction and fulfillment from witnessing their students’ growth and success. Celebrating student progress reinforces teachers’ commitment to their student’s learning and provides a sense of accomplishment in their role as educators.

This, in turn, improves teacher collaboration in schools. Recognizing the importance of English language proficiency growth increases awareness among all educators of English learners.

Parent and Community Engagement

Recognizing student progress toward English language proficiency can strengthen partnerships between schools, parents, and the community. When parents see their children’s achievements celebrated, they become more involved and supportive of their children’s education, leading to enhanced collaboration between home and school.

Data-Informed Instruction

Celebrating student progress is a form of data analysis that allows teachers to track the effectiveness of their instructional strategies and interventions. By identifying successful approaches and areas for improvement, teachers can refine their teaching practices to meet the diverse needs of English learners better.

The celebration of language proficiency growth may help increase English language proficiency. When students understand the benefits and see others celebrate growth, they are more likely to take the test seriously. Families may also know the importance of growing in English language proficiency.

By embracing this practice, schools can foster a motivating and supportive learning environment, boost teacher morale, strengthen parent and community engagement, and inform instructional practices to better support student success.

How to Celebrate English Language Proficiency Progress

There are different ways to celebrate student academic progress. Furthermore, schools have gotten very good at creating extraordinary ways to celebrate. Some teachers throw a party; schools may present certificates or offer fun field trips. Every option you choose must consider funding, planning, and other resources.

Celebrate in the Classroom

Some teachers celebrate by inviting kids to a classroom party. Teachers may offer food such as pizza or snacks in these types of celebrations. An advantage to this type of celebration is that teachers can combine students from multiple grade levels and different grade levels if their teaching schedule does not allow for combination. For example, a class party requires teachers to use their money to provide snacks or food.

Others may choose to invite students for lunch in the class. This option is often used to reward positive student behavior in school. Games and activities are often part of this option, making it a fun activity. Students enjoy this option because they eat with their teacher and share a game or activity with other friends.

English Language Proficiency Certificate

My school district will celebrate our student growth for the first time in years. Using the certificate below, we are providing students a certificate that will recognize their English language progress performance. Using the certificate below, we are providing students a certificate that will realize their English language progress performance. A certificate is just one way to recognize a student’s academic progress. This way of recognizing student progress is one of my favorite options. This is because ACCESS is often the only time a multilingual learner may be identified due to their lack of language abilities. The presentation of a certificate can happen during an award ceremony or in the classroom.

Certificates are lifelong memories that students often look forward to each school year. An excellent certificate can encourage students to try harder during each school year’s test. In addition, a certificate indicates that their teacher and school value their effort and performance.

Certificate of Achievement

Send me the Certificate of Achievement Template

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    Certificates can be easy to create. Use the above form to request two ready-to-use FREE templates! The internet has free templates that teachers and schools can use. Likewise, one program that provides free templates is When creating a certificate, the age of the students receiving the certificate must be considered.


    In conclusion, English language proficiency performance is an area that schools and teachers must begin to celebrate. Recognizing student performance can foster more interest in the English language assessments that schools use to measure language progress in multilingual learners. In addition, such recognition may influence student performance, which can positively yield better scores for teacher accountability and school-wide report cards.

    Share with others how you celebrate your student growth below!

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    2 thoughts on “How to Celebrate English Language Proficiency Growth”

    1. It says to use the “above form” for some ready-to-use certificates. I can’t find anywhere to submit a form. Can you help?

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