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Using ELLP to apply for MOE ESOL Funding

Hi everyone, 

Last week I went to a MOE presentation at a local cluster group on the ELLP application process for ESOL funding so this is the focus of today’s post.  I will only highlight the main points and hopefully clarify some of the confusions. I hope that this will be particularly beneficial for schools that have not yet moved to the ELLP process.

 It is useful to understand that the ELLP funding application process was extensively trialled in 2013 in 199 schools and was researched by NZCER for over 4 years.  

 Information regarding the ESOL Funding, ELLP Application process

Completing the ELLP matrices is an ongoing process based on your school’s usual age and ELL-appropriate assessment tools, activities and observations. Twice a year, schools draw from this evidence to apply for ESOL funding. This should not be seen as additional to the school’s normal assessment schedule but as an integral part of it. Teachers will continue to use a wide range of assessment tasks, activities and observations to make an OTJ (overall teacher judgement) with reference to the various descriptors on the ELLP matrices.

  1. All application forms, guidelines and the ELLP matrices are available and downloadable from the MOE website from this page: www.minedu.govt.nz/esol
  2. For funding it is important to use the original matrices in the ELLP Folder (and downloadable from the Ministry website) as this provides a nationally consistent tool. There are clear guidelines to ensure that the matrices are completed in a consistent way.  
  3. Classroom teachers may find the ELLP descriptors more global in nature than other matrices they are familiar with. The detail necessary to make sound judgments can be found in the ELLP documents and DVD. Any additional information provided to assist teachers in making judgments should be carefully considered in light of these resources.
  4. A student’s OTJ placement level for funding purposes is at an ACHIEVED level. It is not what they are currently working towards. When a student can demonstrate a high degree of competence in the majority of the descriptors at any one level consistently, independently and across a range of contexts then that is their stage. For example, they need to be achieving in the ‘weighty’ areas of the descriptors at any one level. For writing, for instance, the use of grammar is ‘weightier’ that script fluency and letter formation. Therefore, the student needs to display competence in the grammar descriptors at that stage of the matrix before being placed at that stage.
  5. The reading matrix focuses on complexity of text rather than descriptors of reading behaviours. To achieve a particular stage, a student must demonstrate the ability to read texts of similar complexity with a high level of comprehension. They must demonstrate competence in decoding, making meaning and thinking critically.
  6. For oral language relook at the oral language exemplar DVD and get a feel for what a Foundation, Stage 1, Stage 2 etc. student looks and sounds like and then use your professional judgement when making an OTJ. Be aware of the importance of focusing on academic language.  
  7. You can continue to use the same assessments, timing and process that you used in the past as it is just the scoring that is different. The amount, levels and length of funding is staying exactly the same.
  8. Schools need to develop their own systems for maintaining these records and ensuring they are accessible to the appropriate staff. If a student leaves, their ELLP records should be passed on to the next school.
  9. When students reach the ELLP funding benchmark, some will need ongoing language support so schools may continue to track and monitor them using ELLP.

Teachers frequently ask how ELLP ‘matches with’ other key documents such as the Literacy Learning Progressions and National Standards. The nautilus diagram (page 12 of the ELLP Introduction booklet) illustrates in a global sense how students coming in to schools at different ages and with differing levels of English language ability can access the New Zealand curriculum. While ELLP is used alongside other documents, there will not be an exact match for all students. ELLP assists with tracking and monitoring ELLs’ acquisition of English language skills. The path they take can be very different from that of a native speaker of English. However, ELLP does link directly to other key Ministry ELL resources such as SELLIPS and ELIP. 

ELLP PLD has been available for a number of years since the ELLP document was published and distributed to schools. Resources provided to assist schools include the online Using The English Language Learning Progressions: professional support for leaders and teachers modules and the Using the ELLP matrices DVD which was sent to all schools with funded students and is available from Down the Back of the Chair. The feedback from the 199 schools that participated in the trial into the use of ELLP to confirm ESOL funding eligibility indicated strongly that the document itself was the most common and useful source of information for teachers, followed by the online support modules. 

  Questions for Reflection

 Questions for schools/teachers already using the ELLP process for applying for ESOL funding

  1. Am I confident that the procedure we use for making an OTJ matrix placement is sound?
  2. Do we need to stop using any current practices or assessment tools?
  3. What extra PLD would be useful for my school staff so that I can be confident in the OTJ judgments that they make?
  4. How could we streamline the funding application process or improve it further?
  5. Can all staff who work with a student access the student’s ELLP record?

 Questions for schools still needing to transition to the ELLP ESOL funding application process

  1. What further PLD do staff in our school need so they can confidently place an ELL on the ELLP matrices? How many sessions will be needed? When will these happen?
  2. What are the main points that teachers need to understand so I can have confidence in their judgments and the application process?
  3. How will we ensure that all staff can access the ELLP record on any student they work with?
  4. How can we streamline the application process to make it as seamless as possible?

 Useful Online Funding ESOL and ELLP Resources

  1. Downloadable ELLP document   http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Student-needs/English-Language-Learning-Progressions 
  2. Using The English Language Learning Progressions: professional support for leaders and teachers modules at http://esolonline.tki.org.nz/ESOL-Online/Student-needs/English-Language-Learning-Progressions/ELLP-professional-support-modules 
  3. MOE applying for ESOL funding process, guidelines, application forms, ELLP matrices and the list of countries/ethnicities etc are all downloadable from http://www.minedu.govt.nz/NZEducation/EducationPolicies/Schools/EnglishForSpeakersOfOtherLanguages/FundingSupportInitiatives/ApplyingForFunding.aspx .

 I think it would be useful to share ideas on this community forum on what you did in your school to inform teachers’ on teaching ELLs and using ELLP especially for ESOL funding application purposes. It would be great to hear stories from schools already using ELLP for funding, how have you found the process, what tips can you share?  Have you got a great staff activity/idea that worked really well that you could share?

Primary ESOL Community News

  • The February ESOL, Literacy and English online community newsletter is now online at http://deliver.tki.org.nz/static/1585.html.
  • There is an interesting discussion on the Enabling e-Learning community on the VLN  at present which you may like to follow or contribute to on Using ICT in reporting processes particular to parents. This conversation has now been extended to include how schools use technology to report to parents/whanau of English language learners (ELLs). How do they inform parents and colleagues about progress using the English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP)? You can access the discussion on the VLN at /discussion/view/856966?orderby=latest.
  • The MOE ESOL News Update has a list of all the cluster groups across New Zealand. These are a great way to be informed and stay connected. This year they will be focusing on ELLP. So if your school is not already in a group take a look at the list and contact your nearest cluster leader. 
  • Very early bird registration for CLESOL is now open. This is the cheapest way of attending this fabulous ESOL conference aimed at academics, teachers and community language providers and teachers.
  • New Zealand Literacy Association Conference
  • HSP principal sabbatical reports and HSP resources

Secondary ESOL


  • Effective pedagogy in mathematics (Summary of BES) which is available to download.  Section 8, page 21, Mathematical Language is well worth checking out!  “Effective teachers shape mathematical language by modelling appropriate terms and communicating their meaning in ways that students understand.”  

I will send this week’s useful online sites, blogs and webinars links later this week.

I hope to hear from you soon

Kind regards

Janet McQueen