There are a variety of testing concerns for teachers, administrators, and coordinators of our ELL students. The information below provides an overview of some of the key things to keep in mind for , NYSESLAT testing, and testing accommodations for other tests.

LAB-R Testing

The NYC DOE publishes a testing memo each year that details how to administer the LAB-R.
You can find that memo here, , or by searching on the DOE's website.

The LAB-R is given to all eligible students (when their HLIS form indicates that their home language is not English) to check their level of English ability and determine if they are eligible for ESL services. The test is administered individually and can take anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour (particularly for students in grades 2 and up who have to take listening, speaking, reading and writing tests). Students who need to take the LAB-R must be tested within 10 days of enrolling at your school.

When you are done testing the student, count up all of their correct answers. For grades K-3, you only need to count the number of "R" or correct bubbles. For grades 4 and up you will need to use the answer key. Then you will need to compare each student's score to the cut score range for the student's grade. The cut score chart will tell you if the student scored at the beginning/intermediate or advanced level, making them eligible for ESL services. If the student's score is higher than the range for the advanced level, the student is considered proficient in English and is ineligible for ESL services.

For all students whose home language is Spanish, you will also need to administer the Spanish LAB-R to determine the student's proficiency in Spanish.

Check that you have all of the student's biographical information filled out on the front of the LAB-R answer document because all answer documents (English and Spanish) must be delivered to the ISC. You may wish to keep a list of all student's scores so that you have access to them before they get scanned and uploaded to ATS.

The New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) is administered every year in April and May to measure ELL students' growth in acquiring English. Every ELL student in New York State must take the test.

The test is administered in five different grade "bands": K-1, 2-4, 5-6, 7-8, and 9-12. This means that each student within the grade band takes the same test, although each grade is scored on a different scale. The test has four different parts that test students' abilities to speak, listen, read, and write in English. Based on each student's performance on the test, students can score at the beginning, intermediate, advanced, or proficient levels. Students who score as a beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels are still eligible for, and required to receive ESL services. Students who score at the proficient level are considered proficient in English and no longer need ESL services (although transitional services may be provided for up to one year, and testing accommodations can continue for up to two years).

Getting Ready for the Test

The testing window is open for about four weeks in April and May each year. The speaking test usually opens first, about two weeks before the testing window for the listening, reading, and writing tests opens. The window for the three later tests tends to last for an additional two weeks, during which time you can also continue with any speaking tests that you still need to administer. The speaking test is administered one-on-one, while the other tests (listening, reading, and writing) can be administered to groups of students.

Before the testing windows open, you will want to run another school-wide test history report to ensure that you have identified all students that need to be tested. You should also check IEPs for ELL students who need testing to make sure that any extra accommodations that the student will need can get added to his or her IEP well in advance of the test.

You will also want to visit the New York City Department Of Education's site to double check the assessment calendar and relevant memos, and visit the New York State Education Department's NYSESLAT homepage. From this site you can view samples, download the School Administrator's Manual, and view other pertinent information.

NYSESLAT School Administrator's Manual (SAM)
NYCDOE Testing Calendar

Once you have verified the testing dates, you may want to create a testing schedule for your school. Some questions to consider when making your schedule include:
  • When are the testing windows open? When do they close?
  • How many students in each class and grade need to be tested?
  • How many teachers or proctors are available to assist with testing?
  • Will classroom teachers administer the tests to their students? Or will it be the job of the ESL teachers or coordinator to administer the tests?
  • How many rooms are available for testing?

You may want to make your schedule as general as what tests are given on which dates, or a specific as which groups of children are you testing during each period of the day. And remember when you create your schedule that the speaking test is administered individually, while the listening, reading, and writing tests can be administered to groups of students.

Communicating with Families

Communicating with families about the importance of the NYSESLAT and about which dates the test will be given is critical. Your school may wish to send out letters to parents and families informing them about the test and listing the testing dates. Parents and families can play a big role in making sure students are successful on the test by helping them get a good night sleep the night before the tests and making sure they are ready on the morning of the testing dates.

The New York State Education Department also provides a NYSESLAT Parent Brochure that helps explain what the test is to families. You may wish to include this with the letter you send to your families. The brochure can be found at:

Communicating with Teachers

Teachers are another important group of people who need to know what the coordinators' and administrators' expectations are for their involvement with NYSESLAT testing. Are classroom teachers expected to administer the test to their students? Will out-of-classroom teachers or the ESL coordinator be pulling children out for testing? Regardless of what decision your school makes about who is responsible for testing, you should communicate your expectations and the testing time line to all teachers early and often.

Administering the Test

Shortly before the testing windows open, you should receive the testing materials from the test company. Although you cannot open the booklet packets until the morning you administer the tests, you should still verify that you received everything listed on your packing slip, and verify that it will be enough materials for your whole school. You can also take out and read through the School Administrator's Manual (SAM). Read the SAM carefully: it has important dates, deadlines, and information about which IEP testing accommodations are and are not allowed for the NYSESLAT.

Presentation by Family Life Academy on April 15, 2011 "Test Prep & Support for ELLs Presentation"
NYCDOE Reducing Data Exceptions

Some things to consider before you administer the test:
  • Are the teachers who are helping administer the test familiar with its format?
  • Are the rooms you are using set up for a "testing environment"?
  • Do you know when and where students will be tested (to ensure all required students receive the test)?
  • Do you have all the supplies you need (enough testing booklets, administrator's guides, extra pencils, CD players for the upper-grade listening tests)?

Scoring the Test

For the speaking, listening, and reading tests, students answers get recorded on answer documents. For the writing test, students have an answer document but also produce writing samples. All of the answer grids get delivered to the Integrated Service Center (or ISC), and then to the scan center where they are scanned and uploaded into ATS. You will need to follow the city's time lines for returning the answer grids on time.

The writing samples that students produce for the writing test must be scored by teachers. Most recently, this has been done in-house: schools assemble their own "scoring team" and create their own schedule for manually scoring the tests within their own school. Recently, schools have been given a week to complete the scoring of the writing tests. The testing company will provide you with CD tutorials and manuals that explain how you should score the writing tests. The scores for the writing samples get recorded on the speaking answer grid and then returned to the ISC.

Packing Up Testing Materials

Although the test company and directions might change, the School Administrator's Manual (SAM) for the current year will tell you exactly how you need to pack and ship the testing materials back to the publishing company when you are done with the test. You can access the SAM at:

It is important to be organized and thorough in administering and returning the testing materials. Because the NYSESLAT has separate tests for speaking, listening, reading, and writing, the answer grids for all four test modalities must be turned in for each student, in order for students to receive a NYSESLAT score. If one or more answer grids are missing for a student, the student will not be given a score for that year and will appear as "invalid" when the test results are made available.

Interpreting NYSESLAT Results

For more information on interpreting test results, please visit our page Interpreting LAB-R and NYSESLAT Data

Other Testing Accommodations for ELL Students

Although ELL students must take a test specific to them, there are also testing accommodations that they receive on other tests as well. These testing accommodations extend to classroom tests created by the teacher or school and the ELA, Math, and content specific city and state tests. The following test accommodations list was taken from a 2008 memo from David Abrams at the New York State Education Department:
[[file:SED_Testing Accommodations 10/08.pdf]]
All ELL students are entitled to:
  • Time extension (all exams)
  • Separate location (all exams)
  • Third reading of listening section (ELA exams only)
  • Bilingual glossaries (all exams except foreign language exams)
  • Simultaneous use of English and Alternative Language Editions (not allowed for ELA or foreign language exams)
  • Oral translations for lower-incident languages
  • Writing responses in their native language (all exams except ELA exams)

For more information, go to the NYSED website

Another important test accommodation, is that any ELL student who has been in the country for less than one year (i.e. they are within their first year of being in the U.S.) does not take the ELA exam. Although an answer grid will likely be generated for them, you do not administer the test to the student. This also means that any ELL student who has been in the country for more than one year does have to take the ELA exam.

All ELL students in testing grades must take the content specialty tests (i.e. math, science, social studies). However, they receive all of the above testing accommodations, including the use of a bilingual glossary on the test. For access to bilingual glossaries, please visit:
If you have students that would benefit from the glossaries because they are literate in their home language, give them the glossaries early in the year so that they can begin benefiting from them and become familiar with them well in advance of the NYSESLAT.

Accommodations for Former ELLs

Former ELLs are students who have passed the NYSESLAT. However, many of these students continue to need English language support. The New York State Education Department says that ELL testing accommodations can be provided to former ELLs for up to two years after they achieve proficiency on the NYSESLAT. Please check the State Education Department's website for more information. This means, for example, if a student passes the NYSESLAT in the Spring of 2011, the school can continue to provide him/her with testing accommodations for 2011-2012 school year.