ACCESS for ELLs General Information

Q: What is ACCESS for ELLs 2.0?

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is the WIDA Consortium’s suite of English language proficiency assessments. Each assessment tests student’s language in four domains: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. The suite of summative assessments includes

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Online, an online assessment for Grades 1 – 12

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Paper, a paper-based assessment for Grades 1 – 12

Kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs, a paper-based assessment kit

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, a paper-based assessment for Grades 1 – 12 for ELLs with significant cognitive disabilities

ACCESS for ELLs meets U.S. federal requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for monitoring and reporting ELLs progress toward English language proficiency.

Q: What grades or grade clusters does ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assess?

Kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs is a separate paper-based kit assessment. ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is available in both paper and online formats to assess students in Grades 1-12, and its grade-level clusters are organized as follows:

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online grade clusters

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 paper grade clusters

Test forms for Alternate ACCESS for ELLs for Grades 1-12 are divided into the following grade-level clusters:

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs grade clusters

Q: Who determines whether my district or school administers the online or the paper-based test for Grades 1–12?

Because states vary in their testing policies, each member state has set guidelines for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online testing which outline the circumstances in which the paper-based test would be administered (if applicable). Each state’s guidelines can be found on its state page.

Q: Who provides the test platform?

Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) is the operational test vendor for the full suite of ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessments, including Kindergarten, ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Online and Paper, and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. More detailed information about how Test Coordinators, Test Administrators, and Technology Coordinators work with DRC’s systems is provided in separate sections of the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 page.

As noted on the WIDA website Contact Us page and each WIDA state’s page, DRC can be contacted at 855-787-9615 or

Q: Are the online assessment items the same as the paper items?

Not exactly. While there is some overlap between the online and paper assessment items, the online assessment utilizes features and content made possible through the use of the online test environment.

Q: Does ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 include tiers?

Yes; however, in the online version of the assessment, tier selection is automatic.

The online test is an adaptive test, meaning that students’ progress through the test based on their performance on previous folders (groups of items), and the test engine determines the appropriate items the students see next. Due to this adaptability, the online test does not require Test Administrators to determine tier placement of students in order to administer the test.

While the test is adaptive, there are still tiered forms for the Speaking and Writing domains. The appropriate tiered form automatically loads in the online test platform based on students’ performance in the earlier domains. In cases where a student handwrites his or her responses for the online Writing test or when a student is placed in the Pre-A tier for Speaking, Test Administrators can view a report indicating the appropriate tiered form to administer.

Tiers for the paper-based ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 are determined by designated staff prior to ordering and administering the assessment. Staff uses the Tier Placement Protocol to identify each student’s tier.

Q:  What if my students do not have experience with computers?

Field tests show that students of all ages reported a high level of success in using the online assessment. The test items and administration procedures were developed through multiple rounds of field tests and cognitive labs involving thousands of students of different ages and experience levels. The design of the assessment and the grade-level appropriateness of assessment features have been carefully designed based on these data. Each member state is also providing guidance on the their state page for situations in which a paper test may be administered.

Q: How are students initially placed for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0?

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Online–Students do not need to have an initial tier assigned prior to starting the test. During the Listening and Reading tests (which are administered first), the test engine automatically adjusts what items a student responds to, based on their answers to previous questions. Once these two domains are complete, the Test Coordinator runs a tier placement report in WIDA AMS that automatically generates the correct tier for each student’s Speaking and Writing tests.
ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Paper–Tier placement decisions are made by educators familiar with the student’s abilities using the Tier Placement protocol.