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).

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 in 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)

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.

Permitted Resources During the Assessment

The following resources are permitted for English language learners working on

  • 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 section Permitted Resources During the Assessment under Support for Students During the Assessments for additional resources.

Special Provisions

Ensure decisions regarding special provisions are made:

  • prior to the assessments;
  • for each student individually and
  • in consultation with the student and their parents or guardians and with the appropriate teaching staff.

English language learners can receive the following Special Provisions:

  • Extended, periodic supervised breaks

Note: School administrators must designate the special provisions for English language learners in the Student Record under the Accommodations tab. Refer to the section Viewing and Managing Additional Accommodations for Students for details on accessing the student record.

Updated on February 27, 2023