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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 students. NYS assessments may be administered to ELLs individually or in small groups in a separate location.

Bilingual Dictionaries and/or Glossaries

Bilingual glossaries are an essential and expected test accommodation for English Language Learners in the State of New York.  They may also be used by teachers, test translators, and interpreters, as well as school-based instructional materials developers. Most importantly, schools are advised to make these glossaries available for their ELLs as soon as they enter school; parents should also be given access to glossaries as an important school-parent relation on behalf of students.

English Language Learners should take advantage of these documents as supplements to their texts as reference materials. New clean copies must be provided to students during all content tests, specially when taking their state examinations.

Teachers are encouraged to use the glossaries as a reference in preparing lessons. They should be of special value in classrooms where the teachers do not speak the targeted languages. It is important to point out that the translators of the state examinations should also use the glossaries when available to prepare the translations of the subject area tests.

ELLs may use bilingual glossaries when taking State examinations in all subjects except world languages/languages other than English. 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 Department's Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies, and the Regional Bilingual Education - Resource Networks can assist schools in locating suitable translators.

Writing Responses in the Native Language are not allowed for English Language Arts Examinations. LEP/ELL students making use of alternative language editions or of oral translations of state examinations may write their responses to the open ended question in their native language. Scoring the tests is the responsibility of the school. However, the Department's Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages and the BETACs 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. ELLs with disabilities should be provided the testing accommodations specified in their IEP or Section 504 Accommodation Plan (504 Plan), with the two exceptions:

The Reading subtest may NOT be read to ANY student. 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.

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.

Are there testing accommodations available for Former ELL students?

Yes. Beginning in 2008, schools are permitted to provide ELL testing accommodations on NYS assessments to Former ELLs for up to two years after testing at the proficient level on the NYSESLAT.

Details of the testing accommodations now permitted to Former ELLs can be found here:

Accommodation for Former ELLs Approved by NYSED Board of Regents:

Dear Superintendents, Principals, District Test Administrators, Bilingual/ESL Directors/Coordinators, Teachers and Parents:

Please be advised that 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: (See full Regents item) [PDF] (75 KB)

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) [PDF] (62 KB)

ELLs and Former ELLs are entitled to these ELL Testing Accommodations as per CR Part 154 Regulations [PDF] (171 KB). 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 Assessment at(518) 474-5902 or the Office of Bilingual Education and Foreign Language Studies at (518) 474-8775.