Family Resources

Identification, Eligibility and Programs for English Language Learners

Q: How does a school determine if my child is an English Language Learner?

A: All parents or guardians of newly enrolled students are required to complete a Home Language Identification Survey (HLIS), administered by a trained pedagogue.This survey lets school staff know what language you use in your home. If the HLIS indicates that your child uses a language other than English, he or she is administered an English proficiency test called the Language Assessment Battery-Revised (LAB-R). Performance on this test determines your child’s entitlement to English language development support services. (If LAB-R results show that a child is an ELL and Spanish is used in the home, he or she must also take a Spanish LAB to determine language dominance.)

Q: Who will notify me of my child’s eligibility for English language development services?

A: Schools are responsible for identifying, notifying, and placing students in ELL instructional programs.

Q: Once I am notified of my child’s entitlement status, how can I get more information about ELL programs and services?

A: Schools are required to hold orientations for parents or guardians of newly enrolled ELLs to inform them of the different ELL programs that are available. In orientations, you have the opportunity to receive materials about ELL programs in your home language, and to ask questions about ELL services (with assistance from a translator, if necessary). At the end of each orientation, school staff collect the Parent Survey and Program Selection Form, which indicates the program that you are requesting for your child. 

Q: What ELL programs are available for my child?

A: Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) programs include language arts and subject matter instruction in the students’ native language and English as well as intensive instruction in English as a Second Language. As the student develops English proficiency using the strengthened knowledge and academic skills acquired in the native language, instruction in English increases and native language instruction decreases. Dual Language programs provide half of the instruction in English and half in the native language of the ELLs in the program (e.g., Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole). Students of the native language are taught alongside English-speaking students so that all students become bicultural and fluent in both languages. Freestanding English as a Second Language (ESL) programs provide all language arts and subject matter instruction in English through the use of specific instructional strategies. Support in the native language may be available.

Q: When can my child exit from ELL programs and transition to monolingual English classes?

A: When your child scores at a certain level of proficiency in English on the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), he or she can enter a monolingual instructional program. (It is recommended that Dual Language students remain in the program for the length of their tenure.) If your child transitions to all-English monolingual classes after becoming proficient in English, he or she can receive bilingual or ESL support, as needed.