FAQs: Test Features
What does ACCESS for ELLs include?
- Student booklets with graphics
- Listening, reading and writing sections in a single, consumable booklet in which students directly respond rather than by using a separate answer sheet
- A reusable prop-up book for speaking; the test administrator records students' responses on a score sheet in the back of the student booklet
- Test administration manuals
- Coordinator manuals
- Five grade level clusters: Kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-5, grades 6-8, and grades 9-12
- Three distinctive, yet overlapping, tiers per grade level cluster except kindergarten, which is a single form. There are 13 separate booklets in all.
How is ACCESS different from previous English language proficiency assessments, such as IPT, LAS, MAC II, LPTS, and Woodcock-Muñoz?
The ACCESS for ELLs is a criterion-referenced test anchored in and representative of the WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards. The test targets academic language proficiency rather than general social English, which is the focus of most English language proficiency tests. In addition, items are grouped around themes rather than presented in isolation.
Unlike some of the other ELP instruments, the ACCESS for ELLs is aligned both vertically and horizontally; a score on one tier means the same as that on the adjacent tier and a score for one grade level cluster means the same as any other grade level cluster. This feature is critical as these assessments must document ELLs' English growth from year to year and allow schools to accurately measure the progress and attainment of proficiency of their ELLs. The prior generation of assessments, in large part, was not designed to provide this continuity.
Is ACCESS for ELLs aligned to standards?
ACCESS for ELLs is directly aligned to the WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards, PreKindergarten through Grade 12 (2004 & 2007). From the standards, test specifications were produced which provided the blueprint for test construction.
How does WIDA separate language proficiency from content knowledge on its tests? In other words, how do we know the tests are measuring language proficiency and not content knowledge?
WIDA assessments provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency in academic English. While some content is by necessity incorporated in the assessment to provide context for language use, ACCESS for ELLs and other WIDA assessments do not assess content knowledge. Rather, scores attained from WIDA assessments are standards-referenced; student performance is being compared to the proficiency levels described in the WIDA English Language Proficiency standards. The ELP Standards contextualize language proficiency within five standards (Social and Instructional language, the language of Language Arts, the language of Mathematics, the language of Science, and the language of Social Studies) and should not be confused with academic content standards.
Test items are presented in a passage (oral or written) with visual supports and they ask students to respond to questions indicating their understanding of the language presented (Listening & Reading) or to produce language in response to a prompt (Speaking & Writing). Students are assessed and scored for their linguistic abilities and not for the precision or accuracy of the content information they process or produce. Specifically for the Speaking and Writing domains, student responses are scored according to rubrics measuring language growth, and not judged for their content accuracy. Student responses should not be rated based on whether or not students answered the question correctly. Rather, test administrators should focus on the quantity and quality of the language used in the student's response and rate it according to the three criteria outlined in the WIDA Speaking and Writing Rubrics.
Approximately one-third of the test items on ACCESS for ELLs are replaced each year, but it is possible that students will respond to some of the same test items in consecutive years. In the Speaking and Writing domains, students may be familiar with the questions being asked, but because their responses are being evaluated based on the language they produce and not their understanding (or memory) of the content, this does not invalidate what the test is measuring.
What accommodations can be made for students with special needs?
An Accommodations Committee, with representation across the WIDA member states, made suggestions in regards to the types of acceptable accommodations for ELLs with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) taking our English language proficiency test. This information is published in the Administration Manual and is also available on the Accommodations for ACCESS for ELLs page.