English Learner Education (ELE) Screening FAQ

  • What is English Learner Education (ELE)?

    The Office of English Learner Education (ELE) provides services to more than 850 students in grades PK-12 whose primary language is not English and who are not yet proficient in English. The program provides support at each school, with services focused on children’s English language acquisition, literacy development, and academic achievement. Learn more about the department here.

    Why does my child need an ELE screening?

    Under federal and state laws, districts must take appropriate steps to identify English Learners so they can receive instruction that is designed to assist them in learning the English language and subject matter content. When a new student enrolls in a school district, it is the district’s obligation to determine whether the student is an English Learner (603 CMR 14.02).

    During your registration appointment, you answered a series of questions regarding your child’s language exposure - this questionnaire is called a Home Language Survey. Every student whose Home Language Survey indicates exposure to a language other than English or in addition to English must be assessed for English language proficiency. In other words, students must be administered the language proficiency test when the answer to any question on the Home Language Survey is a language other than English.

    What happens during an ELE screening?

    For students in or entering Pre-K and first-semester Kindergarten, the test administrator reads a short story to the student and then plays a series of games to determine the listening and speaking levels of the student.

    For students in second-semester Kindergarten and first semester Grade 1, the test administrator also reads a short story to the student and plays a series of games, but assesses listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

    Students in second semester Grade 1 and above participate in a series of tasks to assess their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. All screenings are administered individually and we request that parents/guardians wait in the waiting room during the screening.

    After the student has completed the screening, the test administrator scores the assessment and then a member of the ELE team meets with the family to go over the results and discuss Brookline’s ELE programming (if applicable). Beyond this, we desire that students feel comfortable during the screening, so we may talk or play with your child prior to going back for the screening. We don’t want any child to be scared or stressed by the ELE screening.

    How long does an ELE screening last?

    The length of an ELE screening depends on the level of English of the child and their grade level. For younger students (Pre-K through the first-semester Kindergarten), screenings typically last 30 minutes or less. For older students, screenings typically last 60 minutes or less. Additionally, we strive to make sure every family leaves an ELE screening with a full understanding of our program and their rights. The number of questions you have may also affect the length of the appointment.

    When will my child's ELE screening be scheduled?

    The Office of Registration and Enrollment (ORE) will only schedule your child's ELE screening upon the completion of your registration appointment. OSA may also contact you through email to determine an appropriate time for your child to come in for the screening. An ELE screening is typically scheduled 1-2 weeks following the initial in-person registration appointment.

    Where do I go for the assessment?

    All ELE screenings will be done at the 4th Floor of Brookline Town Hall, 333 Washington Street, Brookline, MA 02445.

    What should I do to prepare for the assessment?

    We recommend arriving about 10 minutes before your appointment time in order to find parking and to check-in. We also encourage families to discuss what will happen during the screening with their child (see above) in order to make students feel more comfortable. For younger students, we recommend that they bring a stuffed animal or other toys that will help them feel more at ease. We also recommend that these students visit the bathroom and have a snack/water prior to testing.

    What are the possible results of an ELE screening and how are the results used?

    Students are either determined to be fluent English speakers or English Learners. If a student is determined to be an English Learner, then a member of the ELE department will go over our ELE programming as well as the rights’ of parents/guardians of ELEs. In both cases, completion of the ELE screening triggers the next step of the pre-registration process which includes receiving the student’s permanent school assignment.

    Results are then shared with the student’s new school and teacher(s), who use it to design an appropriate course of instruction for your child. Please note: a student will never be denied admission to the Brookline schools or their neighborhood school solely based on the results of an ELE screening. The purpose of the screening is to ensure that your child has access to the appropriate supports (if needed) in his/her new school.

    Who do I contact if I have other questions about the ELE screening?

    Please contact Caitlin O'Neill, ELE Enrollment and Assessment Specialist at 617-264-6431 or caitlin_oneil@psbma.org.

  • Brookline ELL Screening FAQs