Combined English Language Skills Assessment (CELSA)

Combined English Language Skills Assessment (CELSA)

Narrative Summary: 

CELSA addresses the need of adult school programs to (1) have reliable ESL/EFL tests that place students into language levels of proficiency and (2) conduct an assessment quickly and objectively.

Intended Population: 

CELSA is intended for high school, college, and adult ESL students.


CELSA assesses high school, college, and adult ESL students and places them into multiple skill, grammar (structure), and reading ESL classes. Ability to Benefit: An Ability to Benefit (ATB) test is required for students who do not have a high school diploma and wish to apply for Federal financial aid.

Skills Measured-Test Content: 

Reading and comprehension based on context as well as grammatical ability

Range of Skill Levels: 

Seven levels, ranging from low beginning to advanced plus

Number of Items per Test: 

Seventy-five items

Types of Items: 

Four-choice multiple choice test in the cloze format. (Cloze is a test format for tests of reading comprehension that involves having the person being tested supply words that have been systematically deleted from a text.)

Development of Items: 

First, each passage was selected based on research to ensure that each passage conformed to curriculum and texts used by classroom teachers of ESL. Second, after high discriminators were chosen for blanks (used in a cloze format), the text was written around the choices in a fixed ratio format. The resulting passages were given to experts to check if the language was natural and representative of materials used at each level. Third, students read the fixed ratio blank passages. From their errors, distractors were chosen for a multiple choice format. Fourth, other students took the multiple choice test. After analysis of the items, the poor items were removed. Fifth, the items were published as 25-item tests. Sixth, 2 tests of 75 items were developed by combining 1 beginning test with 1 intermediate test and 1 advanced test.

Size of Item Bank: 




Alternate Test Forms: 

Two forms

Required / Recommended Administrator Training: 

Review of Test Administrator’s Manual

Test Administration Procedures: 

Paper-and-pencil or computer (network, nonadaptive). Written test administration procedures are provided by the Association of Classroom Teacher Testers.

Scoring - How: 

Hand scoring or computer scoring (scan). Special scanning software (CELSCAN) is available that links the scanner with a computer. Computer scoring scores and places students using the school’s cut scores.

Scoring - Type: 

Raw scores are converted to scale scores, percentages, and/or seven levels that range from low beginning to advanced plus.

Scoring - Who: 

Hand scoring is done using a correct answer key. (Hand scoring is not allowed for ATB purposes.) Computer scoring is done with CELSCAN scoring software or other scanning software or through mail-in service.

Scoring - How Long: 
  • Hand Scoring: a few minutes
  • Computer Scoring: Immediate
Reporting Procedures: 

Annual reporting is required for Ability to Benefit only.

Time Needed for Assessment: 

Approximately 1 hour total: 15 minutes to give instructions and 45 minutes to take the test

Publisher / Company / Source: 

Association of Classroom Teacher Testers (ACTT)
1187 Coast Village Road, Suite 1, PMB 378
Montecito, CA 93108–2794
Telephone: 805–965–5704
Fax: 805–965–5807

Versions & Publication Dates: 

Originally, six forms of CELSA were published. A computer version of the CELSA ESL assessment test is available.


Paper-and-Pencil version:

  • Site License Fee: $195 for 1–60 students tested per year, $295 for 61–200 students, $450 for 201–400 students, $675 for 401–750 students, $995 for 751–1,200 students. More than 1,200 available by quote.
  • Test Booklets Form 1: $100 for 40
  • Test Booklets Form 2: $100 for 40
  • User’s Guide: $12
  • Student Answer Sheets: $64 (for 250 answer sheets) - optional *Note: Additional fees for ATB scoring.

Computer version:

  • This version costs $.60 per student, with minimum usage of $400/year, in addition to purchasing a test site license to use CELSA.
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