English Language Proficiency Standards for Adult Education

This report explains the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards for Adult Education and their relevance to adult education programs with Correspondences to College and Career Readiness Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy, and Mathematical and Science Practices.

American Institutes for Research
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
American Institutes for Research
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages

This report is designed to explain the English Language Proficiency (ELP) Standards for Adult Education (AE)and their relevance to adult education programs. It is meant to support all adult educators who are teaching adult students who are English language learners. The report presents two views of the ELP Standards for AE with their correspondences to the College and Career Readiness Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy, and Mathematical and Science Practices.It discusses: (a) the process used to select and structure the standards; (b) the design parameters that define what the standards are as well as what they not; and (c) the guiding principles that articulate understandings of English language acquisition and learning theory that helped inform the panelists’ selection of the standards. The report also offers tools that can be used in conjunction with the standards. These include: (a) scenarios that provide examples of instruction based on the standards, (b) a glossary of key terms, and (c) examples of instructional scaffolds and supports for learners at varying levels of English language proficiency. 

Benefits and Uses

The ELP Standards for AE are intended to address the urgent need for educational equity, access, rigor for adult English language learners (ELLs). The standards are essential to ensuring adult ELLs receive the focused and effective instruction they need to access states’ academic content standards for college and career readiness.  To that end, the ELP standards for AE emphasize the academic language needed by adult ELLs to engage with and meet state-adopted content standards. When the language demands inherent in state-adopted academic content standards are better understood, we can deliver more effective instruction to our adult ELLs. The ELP Standards for AE were identified to help ensure that all adult ELLs can obtain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment and self-sufficiency.    

This report focuses solely on the application of educational standards for adult ELLs.  It supports the development of standards-based educational services that enable adults to achieve competency in English language acquisition as well as rigorous academic content.  Use the standards frameworks to guide instruction and curriculum development to support adult ELLs (of varying proficiency levels) as they acquire English language skills and content knowledge. The ELP Standards for AE specify the key language functions that ELLs must be able carry out across academic disciplines as well as clear language progressions. The standards report also makes recommendations regarding the types of linguistic supports that ELLs may need. 

The ELP Standards for AE are intended for all adult educators who teach adult ELLs. Their use provides opportunities to build greater collaboration between content instructors and English language acquisition instructors. Such collaborations provide opportunities for sharing instructional materials and methods to better prepare ELLs in all adult education classrooms. 

Required Training

A fundamental awareness of the CCR Standards for English Language Arts/Literacy is recommended. 

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