CELLA is an assessment of English Language Proficiency (ELP) for use with English Language Learners (ELLs). It is avaiable in paper form as well as online. CELLA was designed to provide:
  • Evidence of the effectiveness of local ESL or bilingual programs for state accountability, in accordance with federal Title III requirements.
  • Information about the language proficiency of students that may be used by educators in making decisions regarding placement into, or exit from, ESL or bilingual programs.
  • Diagnostically useful information about individual students' strengths and weaknesses in English that can be used by educators to improve instruction.
  • Data useful for charting student progress over time, including a student's first year in a school system.

CELLA was designed and developed through a process overseen by AW that involved educators and administrators from five states, including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The assessment was developed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), under contract to AW. Development of CELLA was supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
There have been over 1.3 Million individual administrations of the CELLA to ELL students.

Key features of CELLA include:
  • Addresses four skill modalities--Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing.
  • Research-based emphasis on Academic English helps to ensure that students are prepared for success in a general education environment.
  • Standards-based design. The assessment measures Content Benchmarks developed after a review of English Language Proficiency standards in multiple states.
  • Vertical scales for Oral Skills, Reading, Writing, Comprehension, Total, permit reliable monitoring of growth in student skills.
  • Shorter administration time than other comparable assessments, ranging from 1 hour to 2 hours and 35 minutes (depending on student age and skill level). One-on-one section (speaking) administered in 15 minutes.
  • Functional level testing in Reading and Writing assures a non-frustrating experience as well as reliable scores for students at a very wide range of skills levels.
  • Diagnostic, item-level skill category reporting provides extensive information for every student.

Interested in additional information about CELLA?

Additional information about the online version of CELLA is available here.

Or you can email us at:

Other Resources

The U.S. Department of Education has published a useful set of research-based publications on serving ELLs:

Instruction and Academic Interventions

Serving Adolescent Newcomers

Use of Accommodations in Large-scale Assessments