ESL Placement Procedure

Procedure Section: 
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Last Revised: 
Tuesday, March 19, 2019



New students and students returning after an absence of two or more quarters must complete a CASAS appraisal assessment to determine their placement level prior to registering for an ESL course. Most students complete the ESL CASAS Oral Screen and ESL Placement Writing Assessment in an Information Session. Once students have a student ID, they can take the CASAS Reading and Listening Assessments in the SPSCC Assessment Center. Students with extremely limited English or literacy skills can be offered the CASAS Reading paper assessment.


Most ESL students have differing abilities in the 4 language skill areas:  reading, writing, listening and speaking.   For this reason, when placing a student in an ESL level and in an ESL class, it is necessary to look at the student’s abilities in all 4 skill areas.  The objective is to determine which ESL class will meet the learning needs of the student in his/her lower skill areas while providing enough challenge in the higher skill areas.  The student is placed in the ESL level of his/her lowest skill area.  The student is then registered for an ESL class that meets learning needs of that lowest skill area AND provides more challenge in any stronger skill areas.  For example, some Level 2 students are registered for a Level 1&2 class while other Level 2 students are registered for a Level 2&3 class, and still others may be registered for a Level 2 class. Instructor Recommendation Exception: A faculty may also revise placement decisions during the initial part of the quarter if needed.


The following are some examples of how differing skill levels are looked at to determine placement.  Please refer to the ESL CASAS Score Level Correlations at South Puget Sound Community College, ESL Placement Writing Rubric, and ESL CASAS Oral Screening Form.


Speaking– beginning

Reading– low beginning - Level 1

Listening– low beginning - Level 1

Writing – high beginning - Level 2

Placement:  Level 1 in a Level 1


Speaking– mid

Reading –high beginning - Level 2

Listening –low intermediate - Level 3

Writing – high beginning - Level 2

Placement:  Level 2 in a Level 2 class


Speaking– beginning

Reading –low intermediate - Level 3

Listening –low beginning - Level 1

Writing – low intermediate - Level 3

Placement:  Level 1 in a Level 1&2 class


Speaking – mid

Reading – high intermediate - Level 5

Listening –low intermediate - Level 3

Writing – intermediate - Level 4

Placement:  Level 4 in a Level 4 class


Speaking– high                       

Reading – high intermediate - Level 5                       

Listening – advanced - Level 6                       

Writing – high intermediate - Level 5                        

Placement:  Level 5 in a Level 5&6 class


Speaking – high

Reading – high intermediate - Level 5

Listening – advanced Level 6

Writing – low intermediate- Level 3

Placement:  Level 3 in a Level 3 class


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