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ELPA Excellence Award

The ELPA Excellence Award program awards grants to districts and charter schools with evidence-based English language development (ELD) programs that achieve the highest English language proficiency and academic growth among English learners and the highest academic achievement for English learners who transition out of the English language development program. 

** Unfortunately, the ELPA Excellence Award Program was excluded from the 2023-2024 Long Appropriations Bill for the 2023-24 fiscal year. CDE will communicate if the ELPA Excellence Award is awarded in the future. ** 

ELPA Excellence Awardees

The ELPA statute requires the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to identify Excellence Awardees using three criteria:

  • Highest content growth for ELs in program,
  • Highest language growth for ELs in program, and
  • Highest content achievement for exited (former EL) students.

Until 2017-2018, CDE identified the highest performing 10 districts and 10 charter schools as Excellence Awardees, using an average of the three indicators listed above, each receiving one-third of the points. After three years of distributing the ELPA Excellence Awards, the CDE has adjusted the criteria used to identify the recipients of the ELPA Excellence Award moving forward.   

As of 2018-2019, identification as an ELPA Excellence Awardee will be based on the following criteria for districts and charter schools:

  • Growth percentiles in the top 25 percent of all schools/districts on the state’s English language proficiency assessment for English learners in program (2018 ACCESS growth);
  • Growth percentiles in the top 25 percent of all schools/districts on the state’s academic content assessment on English language arts and math for English learners in program (2018 CMAS growth); and
  • Achievement in the top 25 percent of all schools/districts based on the percentages of ELs who scored in the top two proficiency levels on the state content assessments of English language arts and math (and, when available, science and social studies) for ELs who have transitioned out of an English Language Proficiency Program (2018 CMAS).

Awardees are eligible based on elementary, middle, and high school grade spans, and may earn the award for any or all of the grade spans. The number of awardees may vary from year to year under these new criteria; however, this will ensure that CDE identifies those that are highest-performing, as the ELPA statute intended. The modified definition of ELPA Excellence may result in fewer awardees being identified, but will likely increase the amount of money distributed to each recipient, as the full $500,000 will still be awarded annually. These changes to the criteria are consistent with the requirements in current legislation and State Board of Education rules, and do not necessitate changes to either.

2019-2020 ELPA Excellence Awardees

Academy District 20​

Atlas Preparatory High School

STRIVE Prep - Rise


At the conclusion of each school year for which it receives a grant, each district and charter school that receives an ELPA Excellence Award must submit a data analysis and summary of the evidence-based ELD program and an annual financial report of the use of funds received. CDE will make the reports available to the public on the ELPA Excellence Award website. 

2019-2020 ELPA Excellence Award Reports:

2018-2019 ELPA Excellence Award Reports:


For the 2016-17 Best Practices Reports, CDE synthesized the findings along with observations from CDE site visits and has summarized the best practices into one ELPA Excellence Award Evaluation Report to highlight the exemplary practices and procedures common to ELPA Excellence Awardees.

Previous years ELPA Excellence Award reports will be made available upon request. Please contact Lindsay Swanton to request past ELPA Excellence Award reports.