English Learners Program in Burbank

  • In the state of California, approximately 1.3 million public school pupils, or one in five children in kindergarten through grade twelve (K-12), are identified as English Learners (ELs) as of 2018. Last year, Burbank Unified served 1,637 English learners, or in other words, 10.8% of our students were identified as English Learners (ELs).

    EL students speak another language as their primary language. Upon entering school, they are provided with specially designed English Language Development (ELD) curriculum and strategies that assist in developing listening, speaking, reading, and writing proficiency in English sufficient to allow them to participate in the regular program. Classroom teachers use specific strategies to assist these students in learning all subjects, including mathematics, science, and history. Teachers in Burbank are required to take coursework and pass rigorous tests in order to earn certification that will enable them to provide instruction for English Learners.

    The District’s responsibility is to assist English Learners to attain English proficiency and develop high levels of academic achievement. To reach this goal, the District has adopted a Master Plan for English Learners that delineates how students are identified for this program. Among other components, the Master Plan also provides direction and support for the manner in which instructional programs will be implemented to assist students, training for staff members who instruct English Learners, establishes the use of resources by and for instructors, establishes parent advisory committees at both the school and District level that will be involved in the programs, and establishes the means of program evaluation that will be used.

    How are students identified to take the English language proficiency test? California requires parents to complete a Home Language Survey when enrolling their children in California schools. If a language other than English is listed to #1, #2, or #3 below, and this is the first time the child is enrolling in a California public school, (s)he will be given the Initial English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) by a member of the school’s ELD staff during the instructional day. If the child was enrolled in another California public school, we will maintain the language designation from the first public school enrollment.

    1. What language did this student learn when first beginning to talk?
    2. What language do you use most frequently to speak to this student?
    3. What language does this student most frequently use at home?
    4. What language do adults speak at home most often? 


    The California Department of Education (CDE) requires the annual administration of an English language proficiency assessment to measure performance and growth. Beginning in the spring of 2018, the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) is the required state test for English language proficiency. Prior to 2018, the state required schools to use the California English Language Development Test (CELDT). In Burbank, 42% of English Learners attained proficiency in 2018 on the ELPAC, well above the statewide average of 30.6%. 

    For more about the ELPAC:

    For more information on school and district progress:

    Burbank Unified also has local measures of the success of its program, including a strong emphasis on helping students move through the program until they reach grade level academic English proficiency and are reclassified as Fluent English Proficient. Over the last three years, most Burbank Unified English Learners have become proficient in academic English and reclassified after only three or four years in the instructional program as delineated by the Master Plan for English Learners.

    The CDE reports that Burbank’s reclassification rate was 18.8% during the 2018-2019 school year, indicating that nearly one in five students becomes proficient in English every year. Our reclassification rate is above California’s average of 13.8% and is a strong indicator that English Learners in Burbank are exceeding State expectations on every measure of progress.

    By any measure, our English learners are doing extremely well. I’d like to share a final example with you. The District annually assesses the performance of EL students on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP), and in a majority of subject matter areas, reclassified, proficient students (former English Learners) outperform their English-only counterparts.

    As a final note, a number of the students who make up the “top 10” students at graduation from Burbank and Burroughs high schools each year have been participants in the English Learner program. For additional information or should you have questions in this regard, please contact:

    Dr. Peter Knapik

    Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services