The law that governs how charter schools can operate in New York is established by the New York State Legislature. Among other things, the law outlines what must be included in new and renewal applications for charter schools, what bodies can authorize charter schools, how the charters will be issued, and the general requirements for charter schools. Because the law is often vague, it can be difficult to know which New York City Department of Education reports and regulations apply to charter schools and which do not. This page provides information about the May 2010 changes to the law, as well as guidance on what ELL regulations in New York City apply to charter schools.

May 2010 Changes to the New York State Charter Law

The new charter law for New York, passed in May 2010 has several implications for charter schools and ELL students. Under the new law:
  • Charter schools must continue to show a good faith effort to attract and retain a comparable or greater enrollment of ELL students when compared with the enrollment numbers of ELL students in other schools in the same district;
  • Charter schools can now be terminated for repeated failure to comply with the requirement to meet or exceed these ELL enrollment and retention targets (unless this would be the only reason for termination and the charter school can show that it made extensive efforts to recruit and retain such students - such as outreach to families and parents in the community, widely publicizing the lottery, and efforts to academically support ELL students);
  • In their annual reports to the Board of Regents, charter schools must now include their efforts in the current school year, and their plan for the next school year, to meet and exceed ELL enrollment and retention targets;
  • Charter school application forms must be provided in the languages predominantly spoken in a charter school's local community; and
  • Applications for new charter schools must include the charter school's plan to meet or exceed ELL enrollment and retention targets that are set by the Board of Regents or the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York.

Charter schools can access Charter School Application Kits at the
State Education Department's website: at
SUNY Charter Schools Institute
  • Describing the process of identifying ELL students and the method for determining an appropriate instructional program;
  • Describing the special language instructional program the charter school will use to teach ELL students English and to teach the general curriculum;
  • Inclusion of the provision that indicates that ELL students will not be excluded from curricular and extracurricular activities in school;
  • Describing the plan that ensures the needed staff, curricular materials, and facilities to serve ELL students are in place and used properly;
  • Identifying appropriate evaluative standards for measuring ELL students' progress and program exit criteria;
  • Identifying a process for continued program assessment and modification where needed;
  • Describing methods and strategies the charter will use to ensure that ELL students are not assigned to special education because of their lack of English proficiency; and
  • Describing the plan the school will use to ensure all parents, including those whose English is limited; will receive notices and other information from the school in a language they can understand.

New York City ELL Regulations that Apply to Charter Schools

The charter law for New York State says that charter schools are required to meet the same health and safety, civil rights, and student assessment requirements applicable to other public schools, and shall be exempt from all state and local laws, rules, regulations, or policies. What is not always clear, however, is what city and state regulations apply to charters and how they manage, identify, and instruct ELL students. The chart below provides information about what ELL regulations charter schools must comply with and how to do so.

Due Date
Submit To
The Language Assessment Battery Revised - This is the test administered to students who, based on the Home Language Identification Survey, speak a language other than English at home. This test must be administered within 10 days of the student enrolling at your school. The results of the LAB-R tell you whether a student is an ELL, or is considered proficient in English and ineligible for ESL or bilingual services. The test is only given once when a student first enters the NYC public school system.
Ongoing throughout the year.
LAB-R Memo:
NYCDOE Memo 2: Language Assessment Battery-Revised (LAB-R) August 2011
Title III Family Letters
Schools that receive Title III funding are required to provide families with letters when their child is eligible for Title III funded services (i.e. ESL programs), when the child was tested but determined to be ineligible for such services, when the child's NYSESLAT scores allow them to continue to be eligible for services, or when the child's NYSESLAT scores indicate they no longer need services.
In the Fall - as soon as you have identified students.
The NYC DOE's website has sample
letters in a variety of languages:
NYCDOE ELL Family Resources

An example of an Entitlement Letter in English:

The Bilingual Education Student Information Survey - Is a report that identifies all ELL students in a school, what type of service they receive and from whom, as well as what languages the students speak at home. Collecting this data allows schools, the district, and state to have a more accurate picture of the ELL population and the students that encompass it.
Fall - Usually November or December
BESIS General Education Manual:

BESIS Special Education Manual:

The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test - This test is administered to every ELL student in New York State every spring to monitor their progress with acquiring English. The test is broken into five test "bands": K-1, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8 and 9-12.
Speaking: April 18 - May 18, 2012

Listening, Reading, Writing: May 7-May 18, 2012

Answer Documents Due: May 31, 2012
NYSESLAT Administration Memo:
NYCDOE Memo 6: NYSESLAT March 2011

State Education Department's NYSESLAT homepage:

2011-2012 Assessment Calendar:

Good Faith Effort in Recruitment & Retention
Charter schools must show a good faith effort to meet or exceed ELL enrollment and retention targets that are set by the Board of Regents or the Board of Trustees of the State University of New York.
Plan must be included in new or renewal applications.