Home Language Survey (HLS)

In the state of Texas, the identification of English-language learners (ELLs) is a multi-step process that begins with identifying students who may be limited English proficient (LEP). This can be done through various means, such as home language surveys, observations by teachers or administrators, and input from parents or guardians.

According to Chapter 89 of the Texas Education Code, a Home Language Survey (HLS) is a tool used by school districts to identify English Language Learners (ELLs) and determine their language proficiency. The HLS is typically given to students when they first enroll in a school district. It is used to gather information about the language(s) spoken at home and the student’s primary language.

The HLS typically includes questions designed to identify whether a student is an ELL, as well as information about their primary language, the language(s) spoken at home and whether the student has received instruction in any language other than English. The questions on the HLS may vary depending on the specific survey used by a school district, but common questions include the following:

  1. What language(s) do you speak at home?
  2. What language(s) do you speak most often at home?
  3. What language(s) does your child speak at home?
  4. What language(s) does your child speak most often at home?
  5. Has your child ever received instruction in any language other than English?
  6. Do you have any concerns about your child’s ability to understand and speak English?

Additionally, school districts may ask supplementary questions to gather more information on the student’s language proficiency or to find out if the student has received instruction in any language other than English. These questions may vary by school district but may include questions about the student’s literacy levels in their primary language or questions about the family’s migration history.

When a student is identified as an ELL through the HLS, the school district must provide appropriate assessment and placement on bilingual education or English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. The HLS plays a vital role in the identification and assessment of ELLs. Therefore, school districts need to have accurate data on their ELL population to provide appropriate instruction and services to meet the needs of ELLs.

It is important to note that Parents have the right to decline to have their children take the Home Language Survey, or they can also request to re-evaluate their children if they disagree with the results. Also, school districts have to follow the procedure of providing the survey in the native language of the parent/guardian if they are not proficient in English.


Once a student has been identified as potentially LEP, they are then assessed to determine their English-language proficiency levels in the domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. This assessment is typically done using the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System (TELPAS). The TELPAS assesses students in the four domains using a variety of tasks and question formats, such as multiple-choice questions, open-ended responses, and oral interviews. TELPAS stands for the Texas English Language Proficiency Assessment System. It is a state-mandated assessment program used to evaluate the English language proficiency of students in Texas who have been identified as English Language Learners (ELLs). The assessment is designed to measure the students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in English and is administered to students in grades K-12.

TELPAS is based on the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for the appropriate grade level. The assessment is divided into a rating scale assessment and a written composition assessment. The rating scale assessment is used to evaluate the students’ speaking and listening skills and is completed by teachers trained to use the TELPAS rating scales. The written composition assessment is used to assess the students’ reading and writing skills and is completed by the students.

Scores from TELPAS are used to determine each student’s English language proficiency level and whether the student is making progress in learning English. The proficiency levels are Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced High. These scores are also used to determine the appropriate level of English language support for each student and to monitor the effectiveness of the support provided. It’s important to note that TELPAS is only one of the factors considered when determining the level of support a student needs. Other factors, such as classroom performance, teacher observations, and parent input, are also considered.

Based on the results of the TELPAS, students are placed into one of five proficiency levels: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced or Advanced High, or Exit. The scores from the test are used to determine the appropriate level of instruction and support for each student. In addition to the TELPAS, schools in Texas may also use other measures to assess the English proficiency levels of their ELLs. These may include classroom-based assessments, performance tasks, and informal observations by teachers.

Once a student is identified as an ELL, the school must provide appropriate services and support to help the student acquire English and meet grade-level academic standards. The school must also ensure that the students’ progress is monitored. They should be re-assessed at least once a year using the TELPAS test to determine if they have reached an English proficiency level that allows them to be reclassified as fluent English speakers.

It’s important to note that Texas ELLs are protected by the federal law known as Title III, which requires the school to ensure that ELLs have the same opportunity as other students to participate in all academic programs and activities.

Learn more about TELPAS from the Texas Education Agency website
Learn more about ELPS from the Texas Education Agency website

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