The superintendent, with the approval of the State Board of Education, shall prescribe census-taking methods, applicable to all school districts in the state, which shall include, but need not be limited to, the following:
(a) A determination of the primary language of each pupil enrolled in the school district. The primary language of new pupils shall be determined as they enroll. Once determined, the primary language need not be redetermined unless the parent or guardian claims there is an error. Home language determinations are required only once, unless the results are disputed by a parent or guardian.
(b) An assessment of the language skills of all pupils whose primary language is other than English. All the skills listed in subdivision (m) of Section 52163 shall be assessed, except that reading and writing skills need not be assessed for pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 and 2. For those pupils who, on the basis of oral language proficiency alone, are clearly limited English proficient, assessment of reading and writing skills shall be necessary only to the extent required by subdivision (c). This assessment, which shall be made as pupils enroll in the district, shall determine whether such pupils are fluent in English or are of limited English proficiency.
(c) For those pupils identified as being of limited English proficiency, a further assessment shall be made to determine the pupil’s primary language proficiency, including speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing, to the extent assessment instruments are available. Parallel forms of the instruments used to determine English proficiency shall be used, if available. The results of the parallel assessment shall determine the extent and sequence in which English and the primary language will be used in the instruction of basic skills.
A diagnostic assessment in the language designated for basic skills instruction measuring speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing, shall be administered for instructional use at the district level. Such diagnostic assessment shall be updated as necessary to provide a curriculum meeting the individual needs of each pupil of limited English proficiency.
If the assessment conducted pursuant to this subdivision indicates that the pupil has no proficiency in the primary language, further assessment of the pupil’s primary language skills including consultation with the pupil’s parents or guardians, the classroom teacher, the pupil, or others who are familiar with the pupil’s language ability in various environments shall be conducted. If this detailed assessment indicates that the pupil has no proficiency in his or her primary language, then the pupil is not entitled to the protection of this article.
The diagnostic assessment process shall be completed within 90 days after the date of the pupil’s initial enrollment and shall be performed in accordance with rules and regulations adopted by the board.
The parent or guardian of the pupil shall be notified of the results of the assessment. The Department of Education shall conduct an equivalency study of all language proficiency tests designated for the identification of pupils of limited English proficiency to insure uniformity of language classifications and to insure the reliability and validity of such tests. Tests, materials, and procedures to determine proficiency shall be selected to meet psychometric standards and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory.
The Department of Education shall annually evaluate the adequacy of and designate the instruments to be used by school districts, and such instruments shall be available by March 15 of each year.
The assessments shall be conducted by persons who speak and understand English and the primary language of the pupils assessed, who are adequately trained and prepared to evaluate cultural and ethnic factors, and who shall follow procedures formulated by the superintendent to determine which pupils are pupils of limited English proficiency, as defined in subdivision (m) of Section 52163. A school district may require that the assessment be conducted by persons who hold a valid, regular California teaching credential and who meet the other qualifications specified in this paragraph. The superintendent may waive the requirement that the assessment be conducted by persons who can speak and understand the pupil’s primary language where the primary language is spoken by a small number of pupils and the district certifies that it is unable to comply. This certification shall be accompanied by a statement from the district superintendent that the chairperson of the district advisory committee on bilingual education has been consulted and was unable to assist in the effort to locate appropriate individuals to administer the assessment.
Any district may elect to follow federal census requirements provided that the language skills described in subdivision (m) of Section 52163 are assessed, and provided that such procedures are consistent with Section 52164, the district shall be exempt from the state census procedures described in subdivisions (a) and (b).