English language learners

The term “English language learner” is defined by English Language Learners: ESL and ELD Programs and Services: Policies and Procedures for Ontario Elementary and Secondary Schools, Kindergarten to Grade 12 (2007).

Schools should make the determination about the readiness of an English language learner to participate in each component of the provincial assessments. Section 2.9.1 of English Language Learners states: “English language learners should participate in the Grade 3 and Grade 6 provincial assessments in reading, writing and mathematics and the Grade 9 provincial assessment in mathematics, when they have acquired the level of proficiency in English required for success.”

Further reference:

  • Supporting English Language Learners: A Practical Guide for Ontario Educators, Grades 1 to 8 (2008)
  • STEP: Steps to English Proficiency, A Guide for Users (2015)

Ensure decisions regarding accommodations for English language learners are made:

  • prior to the assessment
  • for each student individually
  • in consultation with the student and parents or guardians and with the appropriate educators

Permitted Resources During the Assessments

The following resources are permitted for English language learners if they are used on a regular basis and are non-instructional:

  • writing only, dual-language dictionaries, including electronic or personal dictionaries.
  • mathematics only, digital or paper dual-language resources (e.g., translating tool or glossary).

Refer to the Accommodation and exemptions section for more information. English language learners are eligible for additional permitted accommodations listed in this guide if:

  • they are in the early stages or steps of English-language acquisition. It is assumed that these students require accommodations for classroom assessments throughout the school year. These students are not required to have an IEP to access the accommodations. Record the accommodations in the e-assessment system;


  • they have special education needs and an IEP. Record the accommodations in the e-assessment system.

School administrators must designate the student as an English language learner in the Student Record under the Accommodations tab. Refer to the section Editing the student information for details on accessing the Student Record.

Updated on March 13, 2024