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English Language Learner/Multilingual Learner Assessment & Testing Accommodations

(scroll down for information on ELL testing accommodations)

The New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL)

The New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL) is the only assessment instrument in New York State for measuring the English language proficiency of a student who may possibly be an ELL. The results of the NYSITELL are used to determine the type of instructional program into which the student must be placed. The NYSITELL is a secure test.

When is the NYSITELL administered?

The NYSITELL is administered once the parent/guardian completes the Home Language Questionnaire (HLQ) and an informal interview is conducted in the home/primary language and in English. The initial English language assessment using the NYSITELL is conducted only once at the time of the student's enrollment in a NYS school. The NYSITELL results will reveal whether or not the student should be classified as ELL. It will also tell you the level of the student's English proficiency in order to appropriately place the student and to plan instruction.

Where can a school order copies of the NYSITELL?

An initial online request for the NYSITELL may be submitted upon receipt of a memorandum in early June from the Office of State Assessment entitled "Procedures for Requesting and Storing the NYSITELL." Accompanying this memorandum is a school data sheet, which contains your user name and password to log onto the online request system to place your request. Questions concerning the ordering of NYSITELL materials should be directed to the Office of State Assessment at 518-474-8220. For more information about ordering, visit the Office of State Assessment.

How often is the NYSITELL administered?

The NYSITELL is administered only once within two weeks of the student's initial enrollment in a New York State school.

  • If a student transfers into a NYS district from another NYS district, the NYSITELL is not to be administered to this student. Every attempt must be made to obtain the student's records from his/her original school.
  • If a student does have records, place the student based on the most recent NYSESLAT score.
  • If the student has no records, treat as a new entrant and carry out the entire identification procedure.
  • If a student comes from another state, treat the student as a new entrant and the entire initial identification procedure must be followed.

How are test results reported?

The results are reported in raw scores, scale scores and performance levels. More information may be found at the NYS NYSITELL website.

Link to the Office of State Assessment's NYSITELL information page

Guide to the NYSITELL booklet (for educators)

NYSITELL Parent Information Guide


The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT)

The NYSESLAT (New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test) is the annual English language assessment used to determine if an ELL continues to be limited English proficient, based upon such student scoring at a state designated level of English proficiency on the NYSESLAT (CR Part 154.2)(c). The NYSESLAT has five levels: K-1, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12. It consists of Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing sub-tests that are aligned with the NYS Leaning Standards for English as a Second Language.

What is the purpose of the NYSESLAT?

The NYSESLAT is used to measure progress toward the ELL's achievement of proficiency in English. Based on the test, the student's proficiency level in English is classified as Entering, Emerging, Transitioning, Expanding, or Commanding. Such classification must be used to provide the required amount of English as a New Language (ENL) and English Language Arts instruction prescribed under Part 154 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.

How are NYSESLAT test results reported?

NYSESLAT results are reported in raw scores, scale scores, and English proficiency levels. The NYSESLAT results determine whether a student continues to qualify for instructional services for ELLs or if the student will exit from bilingual education or ENL instructional services.

Who takes the NYSESLAT?

The NYSESLAT is a mandated test for all ELLs. Every ELL must take the NYSESLAT until she/he has reached the level of Commanding on the NYSESLAT, which will allow her/him to exit a bilingual education or ENL program.

When is the NYSESLAT administered?

The NYSESLAT is administered only in April-May of each year. The NYSESLAT is a secure test.

Where can a school order copies of the NYSESLAT?

An "Instructional Guide" containing instructions for ordering the NYSESLAT is sent to building principals of public, charter, and nonpublic schools each year, usually in March. The Instructional Guide provides information on how to initiate an electronic order of the NYSESLAT. Orders are made by the school principal or designated staff person. More information may be found at the New York State Education Department NYSESLAT website.

Link to the Office of State Assessment's NYSESLAT Information Page

2016 NYSESLAT School Administrators Manual

NYSESLAT Parent Information Guide

NYSESLAT Rubrics


Testing Accommodations for English Language Learners

Schools may provide testing accommodations to ELLs, as needed, on all NYS ELA and content-area assessments (i.e., Mathematics, Science and Social Studies). Districts/schools must make all necessary arrangements to make these accommodations available for ELLs who need them. A list of NYS approved accommodations may be found in the School Administrator's Manual (SAM) for each respective test.

Testing Accommodations for ELLs on NYS ELA and Content-area assessments include:

Time Extension (all exams)

Schools may extend the test time for ELL students on NYS ELA and content-area Assessments and on Regents Examinations. Principals may use any reasonable extensions, such as "time and a half" (the required testing time plus half that amount), in accordance with their best judgment about the needs of the ELL students. Principals should consult with the student's classroom teacher in making these determinations.

Separate Location (all exams)

Schools are encouraged to provide optimal testing environments and facilities for ELLs. NYS assessments may be administered to ELLs individually or in small groups in a separate location.

Third Reading of Listening Selection (English Language Arts Exams Only).

Proctors may read the listening passage three times to ELLs on grades 3-8 English Language Arts assessments and on the Regents Comprehensive Examination in English.

Bilingual Dictionaries and/or Glossaries

ELLs may use bilingual glossaries when taking State examinations in all subjects except foreign languages. The bilingual dictionaries and glossaries may provide only direct one to one translations of words. Bilingual dictionaries and/or glossaries that provide definitions or explanations are not permitted. Bilingual glossaries in the content areas are available for downloading.

Simultaneous use of English and Alternative Language Editions are not allowed for English Language Arts Examinations. For state examinations for which the Department provides written translations, ELLs may use both English and an alternative language edition of the test simultaneously. However, they should be instructed to record all of their responses in only one language. The alternative language edition used by the student should be so indicated on the student's answer sheet. Note: There are no translations of English Language Arts examinations.

Oral Translation for Low Incidence Languages are not allowed for English Language Arts Examinations. Schools may provide ELL students with an oral translation of a state examination when there is no translated edition provided by the Department. All translations must be oral, direct translations of the English editions. Written translations are not allowed. No clarifications or explanations may be provided. Translators should receive copies of the English edition of the tests one hour prior to administration. The Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages and the Regional Bilingual Education Resource Networks can assist schools in locating suitable translators.

Writing Responses in the Home/Primary Language are not allowed for English Language Arts Examinations. ELL students making use of alternative language editions or of oral translations of state examinations other than the ELA may write their responses to the open ended question in their home/primary language. Scoring the tests is the responsibility of the school. However, the Department's Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages and the RBERNs can assist schools in locating persons who can translate the students' responses into English to facilitate scoring of the answer papers.

What accommodations are permitted for ELLs on the NYSESLAT?

The NYSESLAT is designed specifically for ELLs. Therefore, testing accommodations ordinarily permitted for ELLs taking other State tests are not permitted for the NYSESLAT. ​ Specific accommodations for ELLs with an IEP are noted below.

What NYSESLAT accommodations are permitted for ELLs with an IEP?

ELLs with an IEP should be provided the testing accommodations specified in their IEP or Section 504 Accommodation Plan (504 Plan), To be consistent with the other State examinations, beginning with the 2017 administration of the NYSESLAT, students with disabilities whose individualized education programs (IEPs) or Section 504 accommodation plans (504 Plans) document that tests be read aloud (by way of human reader or technology) must be provided this testing accommodation for all sections of the test. In previous years, the Listening, Speaking, and Writing sections of the NYSESLAT could be read to students, but the Reading section could not. For the Writing subtest, students may NOT receive assistance or have their responses corrected for spelling, grammar, paragraphing, or punctuation. For further information, please visit the Office of State Assessment and refer to the memo Change in Allowable Testing Accommodations on the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT).

Can ELLs be exempted from any NYS Regents Examinations?

A high school principal may grant exemptions to new entrants from another country or from another State on selected Regents Examinations for students who are initially placed in grades 11 or 12. This exemption includes all transfer students initially placed in 11th or 12th grade, and includes monolingual students as well as ELLs.

What exemptions apply to students who arrive in NYS and are placed in the 11th grade?

A principal may grant an exemption from the Global History and Geography Regents Exam only if the student's first entry to a New York State school is in Grade 11. The principal may exempt a student from the requirement for the Regents examination in Global History and Geography ordinarily taken and passed before the date of the student's entry.

What exemptions apply to students who arrive in NYS and are placed in the 12th grade?

A principal may grant an exemption from the Science Regents Exam only if the student's first entry into a New York State school was in Grade 12. The principal may exempt a student from the requirement for the Regents examination in Science and the Regents examination in Global History and Geography which are ordinarily taken and passed before the date of the student's entry.


Test Accommodations for Former ELLs

Are there testing accommodations available for Former ELL students?

Yes. On September 15, 2008 the NYSED Board of Regents approved extending test accommodations to former ELLs for two additional years after achieving proficiency on the NYSESLAT.  

This limited two-year extension in testing accommodations will provide former ELLs an opportunity to demonstrate their content knowledge by leveling the playing field while they continue to develop their linguistic and academic skills.  These testing accommodations will not affect the validity or reliability of the required State assessments nor will they change the academic level or the expected performance criteria of such assessments.  (Board of Regents item)

The Department will implement this policy revision for all impacted New York State Testing Programs for the 2008-2009 academic year, commencing with the Elementary Level Examination in Social Studies (Grade 5) that will be administered in November 2008. (Assessment Notification Memo to the field by David Abrams)

ELLs and Former ELLs are entitled to these ELL Testing Accommodations as per CR Part 154 Regulations.  District staff should make all necessary arrangements in providing these accommodations during all State exams.

If you have any questions please contact the Office of State Assessment at (518) 474-5902.


Related Links

Assessment Resources for Parents (translated in ten languages)

Bilingual Glossaries

Office of State Assessment home page

Report: Next-Generation Summative English Language Proficiency Assessments for English Learners: Priorities for Policy and Research