Multilingual Learners

Identification Process

Due to COVID-19 the timelines outlined for the ELL identification process, the re-identification process, and the identification process for Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE) have been adjusted by NYSED and detailed in NYCDOE’s Services for ELLs Policy as follows: 

 Identification Timeline 

The initial ELL identification timeline has been extended from 10 to 30 school days after the start of the school year to complete the ELL identification process and place the student. This impacts students who enrolled during COVID-19 school closures in 2019-20, as well as students who enroll during summer of 2020 and during the first 20 school days of the 2020-21 school year. After this 20-day flexibility period, the identification of ELLs must resume for all students within the required 10 school days of initial enrollment as per Part 154 of the Commissioner’s regulations.

School leaders must continue to design instruction that supports all students with English language development needs. As such, potential ELLs identified in Spring 2020 based on the provisional identification process must be provided with language supports until the official identification process is completed. 

Re-identification Timeline 

The re-identification process has been extended from 45 to 65 school days with written request from the family. 

Identification of Students with Interrupted/Inconsistent Education (SIFE) 

The days schools are closed by Governor's Executive Order do not count towards the 12-month identification window for SIFE. 

Units of Study 

All ELLs will be provided the required instructional Units of Study in their English as a New Language or Bilingual Education (BE) program based on their most recently measured English language proficiency level as evidenced in their most recent NYSESLAT or their NYSITELL assessment during in-person or hybrid learning. Former ELLs at the Commanding level of proficiency within two years of exiting ELL status will continue receiving Former ELL services in the form of Integrated ENL or other Former ELL services approved by the Commissioner under Part 154-2.3(h) during in-person or hybrid learning.


Language access is a priority for NYCDOE and is built into our citywide and school-level communication plans around reopening. This includes ensuring that key updates, information, and resources are accessible to families in their preferred language.

NYCDOE created a Return to School 2020 website that is updated with new guidance and policy as it is announced. This site is accessible to people with disabilities and translated into 23 different languages. 

NYCDOE created a Family Engagement Toolkit for school principals to use to communicate with and engage their local school communities. The Family Engagement Toolkit asks schools to review language access support for families and share language access resources with all school staff to ensure linguistically diverse families are receiving each school’s communications. These resources include: 

  • Over-the-Phone Interpretation (OPI) Services: Free over-the-phone interpretation services are available 24/7 in 350+ languages, for all school staff to communicate with families who speak languages other than English. NYCDOE staff can use their cell phones to place these calls, and they can be used during meetings taking place on virtual platforms. 
  • On-Site Interpretation Services: The on-site interpretation NYCDOE vendor has transitioned to provide interpretation services via virtual platforms (e.g., Google Classroom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, etc.). 
  • Written Translation Services: For any written translation requests, school staff have access to the Translation and Interpretation (T&I) Unit’s Translation Request Form. 
  • Translated Communications from NYCDOE Central: The NYCDOE’s central communications team translates all large-scale official messages into the nine covered languages (Arabic, Bangla-Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian-Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.)
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