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Ministry of Education.

Module 6 – Using ELLP to support funding applications


The English Language Learning Progressions (ELLP) is first and foremost a teaching and learning, planning and reporting document. It identifies strengths and gaps in language learning and offers effective pedagogy for English language learners.

Completing the ELLP matrices is an ongoing process based on your school’s usual age-appropriate assessment tools, activities, and observations.

Teachers will continue to use a wide range of assessment tasks, activities and observations to make an overall teacher judgment (OTJ) with reference to the various descriptors on the ELLP matrices.

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. 

This module is developed to support the  MoE funding guidelines and to provide practical advice for using the matrices for funding purposes. The other  five modules (1-5) are important for ensuring that the document is used as intended, for teaching and learning as well as reporting.

It is essential that teachers are familiar with the  ELLP year level booklets.


Note: The funding matrix summary form has all ELLP stages. However, the ELLP stages are presented in the three separate year level booklets as appropriate to the age and stages of the students. For example:

  • In years 1-4 you will only find Foundation to stage 2
  • In years 5-8 only Foundation to stage 3 

Schools will need to determine for themselves who is best qualified to manage the assessments and recording on the matrices.

  • In primary and intermediate schools this is likely to be the classroom teacher’s responsibility and is done in consultation with either the ESOL teacher or other personnel who work with the student. 
  • In secondary schools it is likely to be the ESOL specialists, in collaboration with mainstream teachers, who are responsible.

All approved application forms, guidelines, and the ELLP matrices are available and downloadable  online.

Working with the matrices

Achieved stages are used when applying for funding

For funding purposes, only the achieved stage is recorded on the record of progress cover sheet. This is necessary for national consistency.

The achieved stage means that the student has achieved the majority of the descriptors at a particular stage, in each mode. It is important to ensure that the students show these descriptors independently and consistently across a range of contexts. Teachers should focus mainly on academic language (CALP) when making stage decisions rather than on basic communication skills (BICS).

More information on Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) is available in the  ELLP Introduction Booklet (page 4).

Why we require the "achieved" stage

In this oral language matrix exemplar the teacher has highlighted which descriptors the student has achieved on three different occasions, using a different colour highlighter.

An example of oral language matrix, with areas achieved highlighted in three colours.
  • This student has moved on to working mostly within stage 2. However, there are not enough green highlighted descriptors to say the student has achieved stage 2.  It is clear that stage 1 (in blue) is achieved and that will be the stage recorded for funding purposes on the ‘record of progress’ cover sheet.
  • This matrix shows clearly how the progression through the stages goes and that language development often straddles multiple stages.
  • The matrix also shows what the student’s next steps for learning will be


Reading and writing sub-stages (as detailed in the ELLP booklets) are not recorded on the funding record of progress as they indicate the student is still working within that stage. So while schools will want to record the sublevels that the students have achieved when reporting on progress, for identifying eligibility for ESOL funding you will only need to record the whole achieved stage on the cover sheet.

Getting the scoring right

When considering the descriptors, focus on the student’s academic language across different contexts and ensure that they can achieve those consistently and independently, using a range of assessments both formative and summative as well as observations. 

What information is needed to make solid stage decisions?  

To make solid and more reliable stage decisions in reading and writing especially, it is important to look at the more detailed descriptors rather than rely solely on the matrices themselves, or on the exemplars given in the ELLP individual year level booklets.

  • The exemplars in the booklets are just samples of work that exemplify some of the criteria
  • The matrices are summaries of much more detailed descriptors in the year level booklets which should be considered when making decisions.

Why is highlighting used?

Where matrices are highlighted in different colours, a clear picture emerges over time of which aspects of language acquisition are progressing well and where support is to be targeted next.  

Highlighting also makes the achieved stage more obvious.

Some of the descriptors on the matrices are about what the student cannot do; does this matter?

The vast majority of the ELLP descriptors across the four modes are positive statements on what the student can do. This makes it very straight forward to highlight when they have "achieved" the indicator, or a part of it.

However, there are a few statements about features of language learning at that stage which still need further development. This is mainly across the output modes (speaking and writing).

For example, Stage 1 speaking: “pause and hesitate when speaking” is not a skill you could achieve but it can be highlighted as a shown feature of the student’s language use and therefore fits into that stage. You would still put the student as a stage 1 for funding purposes if they had achieved the majority of the other descriptors at that stage.

Teacher professional judgment needs to be used for the overall stage decision.

Some of the descriptors on the matrices are multistep and carry a greater learning load; does this matter?

Some of the descriptors have a larger learning load than others. For example, in the writing matrix, "sentence development and language structures" would carry more weight than "script control".

Some of the descriptors have multiple steps. A student may achieve part of the descriptor but not another. In that case, it can be partly highlighted.

Teachers then need to use their professional judgment as to how the descriptors are weighted and how these fit in with the overall stage achievement. 

The reading matrix

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.

It is important that primary teachers do not assume that if a text shown in The Progressions: ELLP is a "best-fit" for the stage of their learner, then all other texts at a similar level (for example, from the colour wheel) will also be suitable. Similarly, it is important for secondary teachers not to assume direct relationships between texts in The Progressions: ELLP and English language unit standards. However, the rough correlation between them could be a starting point for exploring further.

Ideas on assessment for each mode

A further resource that models effective ways of gathering evidence and placement on the matrices is the DVD which can viewed online. Also available as a hard copy:  Using the ELLP Matrices (Down The Back Of The Chair, product code 710098). 

Scoring and application process

Step 1

  • Make a copy of the  ELLP Record of Progress and accompanying matrices for each student using the MoE master supplied. 
  • Complete assessments for each student in each mode. This will include formative and summative assessments, standardised tests, and both formal and informal observations to inform an overall teacher judgment (OTJ).
  • On the basis of the OTJ, record the student’s achievement on the matrices (for example, by using a highlighter to identify the achieved descriptors).
  • An overall achieved ELLP stage must then be assigned for each of the four modes.
  • Use a different colour highlighter for subsequent assessments.

Step 2

For each of the modes, assign a numerical value corresponding to the stages as follows:

Score = 0 – when the student is working at or has achieved Foundation stage  

Score = 1 – when the student can consistently achieve almost all of the matrix descriptors at Stage 1

Score = 2 – when the student can consistently achieve almost all of the matrix descriptors at Stage 2

Score = 3 – when the student can consistently achieve almost all of the matrix descriptors at Stage 3

Score = 4 – when the student can consistently achieve almost all of the matrix descriptors at Stage 4

Step 3

Add the stage scores to calculate a total ELLP score as follows:

ESOL table at Step 3

Step 4

Enter the stage score and the total score onto the status list and/or the application forms for the new-to-your-school students as appropriate. 

For funding purposes only, whole scores for each mode should be entered.

Step 5

Submit the status list and application forms as usual by the closing date. 

Note: Do not send the ELLP Record of Progress document to the Ministry – these should be kept as part of the student's individual records and passed on with the student. 

ELLP funding benchmark points

This table identifies the benchmark points below which the students at the different year levels are eligible for ESOL funding.

The students who fall into the shaded segments will be eligible for ESOL funding, providing they meet all the other existing eligibility criteria.  

ESOL funding eligibility table.


Note: There are different benchmarks for the different year levels.

Possible scenarios

Years 1 and 2 students

  • A student has achieved one mode at Foundation (0) and three modes at stage 1 = 3, so will receive funding.
  • A student has achieved three modes at stage 2 and one mode at stage 1 = 7, so will not receive funding.

Years 5 and 6 students

  • A student has achieved one mode at stage 1, two modes at stage 2 and one mode at stage 3 = 8, so will receive funding.
  • A student has achieved one mode at stage 2 and three modes at stage 3 = 11, so will not receive funding.

Years 9 and 10 students

  • A student has achieved two modes at stage 3, one mode at stage 2 and one mode at stage 4 = 12, so will receive funding.
  • A student has achieved two modes at stage 3 and two modes at stage 4 = 14, so will not receive funding.

Published on: 18 Dec 2015