For the 2015-2016 school year the state of Iowa is moving to the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century.  (This will replace the I-ELDA.)  The ELPA21 was developed by the ELPA21 consortium, made up of state education agency staff, experts in English language learning and standards, language development practitioners and researchers focused on the role of language in content-area classrooms.

ELPA21 is an online assessment given to all identified English learners K-12. The ELPA21 assessment system measures growth based on the new English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards designed to make sure that all ELLs leave high school prepared for college and career success.  This will continue to be a high stakes assessment and tied to district AMAOs.  Grade bands for testing are:

  • K
  • 1
  • 2-3
  • 4-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

For successful administration, be sure to check the platform requirements to ensure that your district has everything in place!  Please note, that headsets are required for implementation.  For planning purposes, districts may find this Testing Administration Times chart helpful.

The procedures and system to order and administer the assessment is very different from what has been used previously.  Likewise, as a new assessment, the Iowa Department of Education continues to push out many details and updates as the system comes online.  For that reason, it is important to closely monitor communication on the ELPA21.  As updates become available, we will distribute the information to our contacts as well as post important links and documents on this page.

Training modules for Technology Coordinators and Test Administrators are being developed and will be housed on the AEA PD Online training system. Test administrators must complete both parts before administering the assessment.  Please note, those completing the training will want to print or save the certificate after finishing the modules (see your district’s Lau Plan for details on where the certifcate is to be filed).

District Test Coordinators and Test Administrators will need an A & A account in IDE’s EdPortal to access specific sections of the ELPA21 portal.  Please see instructions to set up and A & A account and add the appropriate ELPA21 role.

Flexibility for newly arrived students

All ELL students must participate in the annual testing required for AYP, taking all subtests that the district is requiring of general education students.  Students who have been enrolled in US schools for less than 12 months are eligible for optional substitution for the Reading test only.  This is called Flexibility.   With this Flexibility, the district can choose to substitute the Reading subtest of the ELPA21 for participation in the Reading portion of the Iowa Assessments.  Additional details and information are included in the Title I Flexibility for New ELL Arrivals document from the Iowa Department of Education.

Please note: districts utilizing this flexibility must submit the completed Flexibility document by June 30th

Important links

ELPA21 portal

Access to important information and tools for Tech Coordinators, Test Coordinators, Test Administrators including:

  • Help Desk
  • Test Administrator Manuals & Resources
  • Practice Test Administration
  • Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE)
  • Operational Test Administration
  • Online Reporting System
  • ELPA21 Announcements & FAQs
  • Sign up for email notice of announcements posted on the portal

Iowa Department of Education’s ELPA21 page


  • General information on the ELPA21
  • ELPA21 preparation checklists
  • Operational FAQs
  • Technology support documents
  • ELPA21 Screener information

AEA PD Online

Access training modules (access instructions)

English Language Learners Agora


  • Statewide ELL information and professional learning opportunities
  • ELP Standards information
  • ELPA21 information and training
  • Title III requirements
  • Lau Plan information

* Please note, to access the ELL Community Agora, users must have/create and account in AEA PD Online and join the ELL Community.