English Language Learners FAQ

  • Our documents are in our home language, are they acceptable? May we translate them ourselves?

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    These documents must have certified translations*:

    Photo identification: many passports have English translations,

    Birth certificate: a passport qualifies as a certified translation

    Immunization or vaccine records and physical examination: if the names of the vaccines are noted using their Latin names and the dates are noted using Arabic numerals, they may be comprehensible in their original form

    Medical records, including special education testing

    Physical custody documents

    These documents may be unofficially translated:

    School records: report cards, progress notes, student transcripts

    These documents typically come in English because their point of origin is the United States:

    MCAS scores

    Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): request English version from school of origin

    Lease agreements

    Mortgage Statements

    Purchase & Sales

    Car Registration & Insurance

    However, in the event that you are using any of the above for school registration, and the original document is not in English, expect to be asked to provide a copy in English.

    *A certified translation is completed by a professional translator. It usually comes with a mark, stamp, or seal indicating the qualifications of the translator.

    Are all of these documents necessary?

    Immunizations: students cannot come to school without *proof* of vaccines, if you need to work with a social worker to obtain vaccines call 617-559-4034 and leave a message.

    Proof of Residency: if you do not have a long lease, please fill out the Residency Certification forms and have them notarized. Notaries are available at many banks and UPS stores. 

    Photo ID or Government issued ID for parent/guardian and child: I-94s are acceptable

    The above documents are absolutely required for students to begin classes.

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  • What test is used to assess my child’s English? What can my child expect during a testing appt?

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    Your child(ren)’s English will be tested using a test named the WIDA Screener. It will test the four domains of English: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. The test will give a score between 1 and 6. A score of 4.5 or less is eligible for ELL services. Typically it is done on a computer using headphones and a microphone, proctored by an ELL teacher. Siblings can be tested together.

    The Kindergarten English test: From January through June Kindergarten age students are tested in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Kindergarten students being tested before the first day of school through December are tested using Speaking and Listening only. This reflects that children learn early literacy skills while in Kindergarten. It is a paper and pencil test that is very child friendly. It is given one on one by an ELL teacher. 

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  • Where does testing take place?

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    When registering for Newton Public Schools, testing typically takes place at the Education Center, 100 Walnut Street, Newton, MA 02460. Testing is done by appointment only.

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  • If my child is placed in the ELL program, how will that help them?

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    Elementary - ages 5 through 11

    There are three main ways students are helped by ELL services. All students are initially placed in general education classrooms. 

    1. An ELL teacher will teach your child in a small group with other children who are also learning English. The small group may meet in the child’s regular classroom, or in an ELL classroom. 
    2. The ELL teacher and the general education teacher will consult to ensure your child is using his or her maximum English level in the regular classroom.
    3. The ELL teacher will circulate amongst all of the ELL students in the general education classroom while the general education teacher is teaching. 


    Secondary - ages 12 through 18

    Students who are eligible for ELL services will have some classes taught by an ELL teacher, or co-taught by a general education teacher and an ELL teacher. Additionally, they will have some classes taught only by a general education teacher. ELL students also have classes in which they can get help on their classwork and homework from an ELL teacher.

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  • My child already speaks some English, will they be placed with beginner ELL students?

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    ELL services are responsive to your child’s English skills. The more English your child speaks, the less often they will work with an ELL teacher.

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  • My child speaks English proficiently, why did they qualify for ELL services?

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    The most common reason that proficient English speakers qualify for ELL services is that their reading and writing skills are not yet at grade level. The reading and writing sections of the test are weighted two to one against oral skills in the overall score. It is common for students to only need help with reading and writing English.


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  • How is my child assigned to a school?

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    Newton Public Schools is a neighborhood school district. Each address in Newton is assigned to a school. Students are required to attend their neighborhood school unless approved to attend another school through Out-of-Assigned District or specific program placement.

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  • We are moving in the middle of the semester, will the school have space for my child?

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    Yes. Our school year begins in September and ends in June. Schools accept new students during the year. 

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  • What grade will my child be in? How are the grade levels organized?

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    Students are placed based on their date of birth, please see the reference chart below. The first year of public school is called Kindergarten, which begins at age 5. The second year of schooling is called grade 1, and grades are numbered sequentially through 12. Our elementary schools have grades Kindergarten to 5, middle schools have grades 6 to 8, and high schools have grades 9 to 12.



    Date of Birth: 9/1/19 - today/22
    Student's Age: 3 - 5
    Grade: PK

    Date of Birth: 9/1/18 - 8/31/19
    Student's Age: 5 - 6
    Grade: K

    Date of Birth: 9/1/17 - 8/31/18
    Student's Age: 6 - 7

    Date of Birth: 9/1/16 - 9/1/17
    Student's Age: 7 - 8
    Grade: 2

    Date of Birth: 9/1/15 - 8/31/16
    Student's Age: 8 – 9
    Grade: 3

    Date of Birth: 9/1/14 – 8/31/15
    Student's Age: 9 - 10
    Grade: 4

    Date of Birth: 9/1/13 – 8/31/14
    Student's Age: 10 - 11
    Grade: 5

    Date of Birth: 9/1/12 – 8/31/13
    Student's Age: 11 - 12
    Grade: 6

    Date of Birth: 9/1/11 – 8/31/12
    Student's Age: 12 – 13
    Grade: 7

    Date of Birth: 9/1/10 – 8/31/11
    Student's Age: 13 – 14
    Grade: 8

    Date of Birth: 9/1/09 – 8/31/10
    Student's Age: 14 – 15
    Grade: 9

    Date of Birth: 9/1/08 – 8/31/09
    Student's Age: 15 – 16
    Grade: 10

    Date of Birth: 9/1/07 – 8/31/08
    Student's Age: 16 - 17
    Grade: 11

    Date of Birth: 9/1/06 – 8/31/07
    Student's Age: 17 – 18
    Grade: 12

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