Language Proficiency Assessment

A. New York State Requirements and Their Similarities and Differences from National Standards

State’s requirements for placement and reclassification within ELL programs vary according to the state. Each state has its mechanism; therefore, the classification standards and exit from ELL status vary across states. However, some of these state requirements share similarities and differences with the national standards, as discussed below in the case of New York.

ELL Identification


Like the national standards, the New York State “Regulations of the Commissioner of Education (CR Part 154)” institutes ELL education’s legal requirements. CR Part 154 outlines the mandatory procedure to assess the learner’s English proficiency during the enrolment. It is a requirement for the school to develop a screening process for all the freshly enrolled ELLs to establish whether the learner is of ancestry or foreign birth and come from a family where another language apart from English is spoken. The screening is done through a “Home Language Survey/Questionnaire (HLQ)” (CR 154, 2016). The survey forms part of an informal interview both in English and the native language and is administered by qualified staff competent in the learner’s home language.

A qualified professional in this case implies a) A NY State certified “English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)” or a bilingual teacher experienced in the student’s home language. b) A certified teacher trained in language development, cultural responsiveness, and ELLs’ importance and skilled in the learner or parent’s home language. The parent/guardian must be notified of assessment outcome and ELL status, and the communication must be in a language that the parent/guardian understands (CR 154, 2016). The requirements are similar to the national standards, which mandate school districts to identify ELLs in grades K-12 using a home language questionnaire (Wolf, Kao, Griffin, Herman, Bachman, Chang, & Farnsworth, 2008). The survey is administered by ELL/ bilingual certified teachers and language proficiency tests approved by education departments. The standard HLQ for New York comprises of; student’s name written in the order of First, Middle and Surname, date of birth (Month, Day, Year), Parent/guardian, Home Language Code, and education history (CR 154, 2016). The same standards apply to national standards.


ELP Standards and Assessment

New York State applies the “New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL)” to assess English language proficiency (ELP) for learners who could potentially be ELLs. The outcome of the assessment is used to establish the mode of instruction that suits the learner. Any response with another language other than English during the home language questioning generates the need for an informal interview in the learner’s native language alongside the English language. If the learner’s English aptitude is limited, they may be assessed using NYSITELL (CR 154-2 & 154-3). A student who scores under the proficient level is categorized as ELL students.

Similarly, the national standards demand an initial assessment of the learner’s ELP by administering a screener test. States are allowed to adopt their testing approach, which can either be brief ELP assessment or full-state ELP assessment adopted by the national government annual accountability reporting. The New York State engages stakeholders to strengthen and enhance programs required in CR Part 154 standards for ELL students, allowing districts to find innovative approaches to ensure ELLs’ improved services (CR 154-2 & 154-3).

Reclassification of ELL Students

Both the New York State’s requirements and the national standards demand that ELLs be reassessed to gauge their progress in learning and mastery of English. An ELP test is administered, and learners who score at the levels that state requirements or national standards define as “English proficient” may be regarded as qualified for reclassification as “former ELL” students. The state determines the threshold for reclassification. The state may also consider other testing criteria other than ELP in the reclassification. Such may include performance on content, portfolios of the learners’ works, input from teachers, and student interviews (Kim, & Herman, 2010).  For New York State, the reclassification is based on “New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT),” and learners who score below the state’s proficient level are retained in the ELL program (Wolf, Kao, Griffin, Herman, Bachman, Chang, & Farnsworth, 2008).


While New York State requirements mostly rely on brief ELP assessment using NYSITELL, the national standards mostly emphasize full-state ELP assessment adopted by the federal yearly accountability reporting. 

B. Three-Column Table That Lists the Requirements for Your State (NY)

State RequirementThree Procedures Teachers Need to FollowThree Instruments
Use of HLQ for ELL identificationThe teacher must ensure that HLQ is administered to learners/parents or guardians not later than ten days of enrolment.Establish whether a language besides English is spoken at home before administering HLQ. The teacher must check to ensure that HLQ captures all the information necessary, such as name, date of birth, home language code.A copy of the “Student Information Repository System (SIRS)” manual containing language codesState ELL policies Proficiency in the learner’s home language

C. Family’s Role and Rights in Program Decisions for ELL Student Placement

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Schools must understand the rights that ELL students, immigrants learners, and their families have concerning access to learning and information in their home language to promote parent involvement. Parents’ involvement is a fundamental pillar for the students’ success.

US Department of Education recommends that schools communicate information to non-English speaking parents in a language they can comprehend to enable them to understand school programs, services, and activities in a similar way as parents who are proficient in English. The information includes but not limited to policies concerning the discipline of the students, report cards, parent-teacher meetings, language support programs, enrolment and registration programs, notices of non-discrimination and grievance procedures, parent handbooks, and any other issue that requires parents’ attention (US Department of Education). The recommendation applies even in circumstances where the student is proficient in English. Schools must consider that parents may be limited in English proficiency even if their children are from adept in English.

Tumarkin & Weldin (1997) consider parents’ involvement in the child’s “learning as a power in the portfolio process.” The portfolio assessment is a valuable substitute learning assessment system and requires active participation and support of parents. In many cases, parents have been left out of the portfolio assessment. The authors argue that “traditionally, families have been left outside the assessment process, yet parents are the ones who know their children best.” (Tumarkin & Weldin 1997). Portfolio assessment is a form of “authentic assessment.” The idea is to document the students’ growth over time, focusing on the learning process. Students’ work, including progress, achievement, and efforts, are purposefully collected for assessment, while at the same time, learners are engaged in the content selection and reflection of their work. Parent involvement is essential and encourages open and constant communication between school and home to monitor the child’s progress (Tumarkin & Weldin 1997). This means that schools must provide the information needed in a language that parents who are not proficient in English can understand.

The “WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards” also advocate for parents’ active engagement in the ELL process. The “WIDA ABCs of Family Engagement” programs promote building solid relationships with students’ families and solidifying family engagement practices during the English language learning and development process. One aspect of the ABCs is the awareness-raising, which is regarded as a fundamental step in building a transparent and transformative partnership between the school and the students’ families. It includes reflecting on how families or parents should support the learners’ education or school’s explicit and implicit expectations of parents’ engagement. Parents can be engaged traditionally through school-based approaches where parents subscribe to the school’s programs to support learners at home, such as attending parent-teacher meetings and checking homework (Baquedano-López, Alexander, & Hernández (2013). The non-traditional engagement, on the one hand, can hand parents participating in setting the agenda for school-family partnership (WIDA 2020). In all these scenarios, parents have the right to be provided with information in a language that they understand. The non-traditional forms of engagement, for instance, include empowering families by providing them with the information and skills they require to navigate schools.

The “New York State Education Department’s Office of Bilingual Education” and the “World Languages (OBEWL),” have developed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” for ELL and Multilingual Learners (ML), summarizing the rights regarding educational access and programs for ELLs and their parents. The bill advocate for an empowered and informed parents or guardians in ensuring that ELLs are well aided. It incorporates information concerning how parents or learners can raise their concerns and queries through OBEWL or Parent Hotline, which helps parents inquire about their rights and delivery of education services to their children according to the state ELL regulations (New York Education Department 2018).

The New York State’s “Parents’ Bill of Rights” maintains that ELLs parents have the right to enroll their children in schools without being questioned to avail paperwork or information about the child’s immigration status, such as immigration visa or citizenship documents. Parents should also be notified in English and their preferred language of any school information/communication. The Bill also provides for the parent’s right to meet and discuss the progress of child’s learning and language development (New York Education Department 2018) among the seventeen rights that are contained in the Bill. The fundamental principle of ELL and bilingual education is that individuals living in a community whose culture and language contrast their own must be supported to participate in the society’s mainstream without forfeiting their culture and language to attain meaningful participation. ELLs should be allowed to apply available language skills while developing English language proficiency (Carrasquillo, RodrĆguez, & Kaplan, 2014).

Schools must understand the rights that ELL students, immigrants, and their families have concerning access to learning and information. They are encouraged to issue critical information both in English, and other alternative languages understood by parents. School districts must effectively assist limited English adept parents (US Department of Education), for instance, by providing translated resources or a language interpreter.


Baquedano-López, P., Alexander, R. A., & Hernández, S. J. (2013). Equity issues in parental and community involvement in schools: What teacher educators need to know? Review of research in education, 37(1), 149-182.

Carrasquillo, A., RodrĆguez, D., & Kaplan, L. (2014). New York State Education Department Policies, Mandates, and Initiatives on the Education of English Language Learners. Journal of Multilingual Education Research, 5(5), 67-91.

CR 154. (March 1, 2016). Commissioner’s Regulation 154. Home Language Questionnaire (HLQ) and Individual Interview Guidance.

CR 154-2 & 154-3. Guidance: Determining English Language Learner/Multilingual Learner (ELL/MLL) Status of and Services for Students with Disabilities.

Kim, J., & Herman, J. L. (2010). When to Exit ELL Students: Monitoring Success and Failure in Mainstream Classrooms after ELLs’ Reclassification. CRESST Report 779. National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).

New York Education Department (2018). Parents’ Bill of Rights for New York State’s English Language Learners/Multilingual Learners & ELL Parent Hotline.