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ELL Guidance

State Assessment Guidance for ELL Students


Only ELL students who have been enrolled in a US school for three years or less and whose primary language is Spanish, qualify to take the NM state assessments in Spanish. The table below details specifics based on the number of years an ELL student has been enrolled in a US School.

1st year in a US School

Students have a language exemption for the Reading assessment only. Students must still test in math, writing and other subjects.

  • If a student’s primary language is Spanish they may take all required state tests in Spanish.
  • If a student’s primary language is not Spanish they will test in English.

2nd – 3rd year in a US School

Students must participate in English or Spanish language versions of assessments:

  • PARCC Math (Grades 3-11)
  • SBA Science (Grades 4, 7, 11)
  • Spanish Language Arts (Grades 3-11, alternative to PARCC ELA for students whose primary language is Spanish
  • EOCs aligned to courses student is enrolled in

NOTE: For students whose primary language is not Spanish, they take state assessments in English.

4th – 5th year in a US School

Students must participate in English language versions of state assessments unless the school has applied for a waiver to continue testing in Spanish and the NM PED approves the waiver. A waiver is only valid for one year.

NOTE: School Test Reps (STCs) submit waivers to Assessment then a comprehensive district file of waivers is submitted to the NM PED (December of each year).  Assessment notifies STCs, if waivers are NOT approved by the NM PED.

High School English Language Learner Students

  1. Students in 9th grade who qualify for the Spanish Language Arts (SLA) test do not have to take PARCC ELA assessment. (SLA is only for 10- 11 graders)
  2. Students in 9th – 11th grade who speak languages other than Spanish, have to take PARCC ELA assessments with appropriate accommodations.
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