Certification Based on ESPA and ELPT Results
Results for ESPA tests given at the beginning of a semester (January and August) are available within two days. Results for ESPA tests given during the middle of a semester (March and October) are available one day prior to administration of the ELPT, (about 3 weeks) after the ESPA. ELPT results are sent to the students through their departments within a few days of taking that test. Students can make an appointment with the ESL Programs office to receive individual feedback after the ESPA and the ELPT.
ESPA and ELPT result forms contain the following information:
- the Level of Certification achieved by the examinee (fully certified, partially certified, or not certified);
- the types of teaching assistant responsibilities the student has language proficiency to perform; and
- the TAPE program courses, if any, which the student is required to complete.
Students who take the ESPA/ELPT receive a report indicating one of the following teaching classifications:
A = Take full responsibility for a lecture or discussion class
Either the student scored 60 on the ESPA test and does not have to take the ELPT or the student scored 50 or 55 on the ESPA test, and the student's ELPT performance indicated that the student should be able to take full responsibility for a class. No retesting or TAPE classes are required, although the student is required to register for the TAPE Orientation Workshop during the first semester the student teaches.
B = Handle a discussion section or supervise a lab section with minimal supervision
The student scored 50 or higher on the ESPA test, and the ELPT performance has indicated that the student's proficiency is at a level sufficient to teach a discussion section or lab with some faculty supervision. TAPE classes and another ELPT are required if the student wishes to raise their certification to the A level. The student will be required to register for the TAPE Orientation Workshop during the first semester that the student teaches.
C = Assist in a lab situation with immediate supervision or teach a foreign language class where the language of instruction is not English
The student scored 50 or 45 for foreign language TAs. The ELPT performance indicated that the student's proficiency is at a level sufficient to assume duties such as assisting in a lab; however, immediate supervision of a faculty member is required. TAPE classes and an additional ELPT are required if the student wishes to raise their certification to the A or B level.
D = Conduct office hours (one-on-one interaction only)
If a student scores at least 45 on the ESPA, the student may assume teaching assistantship responsibilities which allow for one-on-one interaction with students, such as conducting office hours. The student cannot assume teaching assistantship responsibilities in a classroom setting. TAPE classes are required before the student is allowed to retake the ESPA test.
E = Grade papers or handle other duties that do not require direct contact with students
The student scored less than 45 on the ESPA test and must not be assigned duties that require direct contact with students. TAPE classes are required before the student is allowed to retake the ESPA test. If the student's score is below 40, the student is required to take ESL Academic Oral Skills before enrolling in TAPE classes.
Students who do not achieve the required passing score on the ESPA can retest only if:
- they take one of the required TAPE classes (in which case they will be automatically retested at the end of the class), OR
- they wait an entire year (students may only do this once).
A four-hour orientation program is required of all students who:
- have been certified at level A or B, and
- are teaching a university class for the first time. If this requirement applies to you, be sure to make arrangements with ESL Programs to attend the orientation during your first semester in the classroom.
This orientation helps new teaching assistants understand the culture of the U.S. classroom and treats topics such as student expectations, teacher-student interactions, and understanding and answering student questions. Discussion focuses on suggestions for maximizing comprehensibility in spoken English. This course meets twice for 2 hours.
The final component of the TAPE Program is the follow-up classroom observation. This is designed to provide TAs whose first language is not English with support and assistance during their first semester in a UI classroom. The observations are conducted in the fall and spring semesters, when the majority of teaching assistants are in the classroom.
How it works
An instructor from ESL Programs meets with a first-time TA after class to suggest ways to improve the TA's language or ways to use language compensation skills. The TA is invited to discuss problems or questions which have arisen during the semester. Finally, a written report of the visit is later sent to the TA.
In some cases, TAs who are certified at level B ("handle a discussion section or supervise a lab section with minimal supervision") will have their certification level raised to an A ("take full responsibility for a lecture/discussion class"), based on the classroom observation. Students with a B certification may ask their department to contact the ESL Programs office to request a recertification observation with the hope of raising their certification to the A level.