Services for English Language Learners (ELL)


When you enroll your child in a New York City public school, you will be asked to fill out a Home Language Identification Survey (HLIS). If your child communicates in a language other than English, the Department of Education (DOE) will determine your child’s English language proficiency with the New York State Identification Test for English Language Learners (NYSITELL). Depending on the results of that test, your child may be identified as an English Language Learner (ELL).

Measuring Development

Every spring, your child’s English language development will be measured with the NYS English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). There are five possible results of the NYSESLAT:

  1. Entering
  2. Emerging
  3. Transitioning
  4. Expanding
  5. Commanding

There are three ways for your child to be considered proficient in English (no longer an ELL student):

  1. Score of “commanding”
  2. Score of “expanding” AND a level 3 or above on the grade 3 to 8 NYS ELA exam
  3. Score of "expanding" AND a score of 65 or above on the NYS ELA Regents exam

For up to two years after being considered proficient, your child will be a “former ELL” and will still be eligible for ELL services.

Programs and Services

The New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) provides three different programs for ELLs: Freestanding English as a New Language, Transitional Bilingual Education, and Dual Language. You can choose which program you would like for your child, regardless of what program your zoned school offers.


  • ENL is the most popular program.
  • Students are taught only in English.


  • Instruction is in both English and your child’s home language.
  • As your child develops his/her English language skills, home language instruction will be phased out.


  • The goal of the program is bilingualism.
  • Target language of the program is based on demographics of the school and district.
  • Classes will be 50% in English, 50% in the target language.
  • Half of the students are ELLs and half are not. Priority for enrollment will be given to ELLs.
Learning and School, Education resources and programs, Navigating NYC schools and applications, Special education
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