ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State
for English Language Learners) is a secure large-scale English language proficiency
assessment given to Kindergarten through 12th graders who have been identified as
English language learners (ELLs). It is given annually in WIDA Consortium member
states to monitor students' progress in acquiring academic English. ACCESS for ELLs is only available to Consortium member states.
ACCESS for ELLs test items are written from the model performance indicators of
WIDA's five English Language Development (ELD) standards:
- Social & Instructional Language
- Language of Language Arts
- Language of Mathematics
- Language of Science
- Language of Social Studies
Test forms are divided into five grade-level clusters:
- Grades 1-2
- Grades 3-5
- Grades 6-8
- Grades 9-12
Within each grade-level cluster (except Kindergarten), ACCESS for ELLs consists
of three forms: Tier A (beginning), Tier B (intermediate), and Tier C (advanced).
This keeps the test shorter and more appropriately targets each students' range
of language skills.
Each form of the test assesses the four language domains of Listening, Speaking,
Reading, and Writing.
Purpose and Use
ACCESS for ELLs:
- Exceeds the requirements stipulated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001
and is used to measure and report growth in a manner consistent with the need for
fulfilling these requirements.
- Generates results that serve as one criterion to aid in determining when ELLs have
attained the language proficiency needed to participate meaningfully in content
area classrooms without program support and on state academic content tests without
- Provides districts with information that will aid in evaluating the effectiveness
of their ESL/bilingual programs.
- Identifies the ELP levels of students with respect to the WIDA ELD Standards' levels
- Provides information that can be used to enhance instruction and learning for ELLs.
The Sample Items publication is formatted to showcase how ACCESS for ELLs test items
relate directly to the WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards. Its intended
purpose is to foster an understanding of how the assessment operates among educators,
students, parents/guardians, and the general public. This document contains samples of Listening items, however, they do not incorporate the media-based Listening format.
Please note: The Grades 1-12 Sample Items are not in any way equivalent
to a test form and should not be used for assessing students.
Developed in partnership with the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) and as a
collaborative effort of consortium member states, ACCESS for ELLs is a standards-based
assessment. The WIDA ELD Standards express expectations for student performance
at each level of the language development continuum and serve as the basis of the
test's selected-response item and performance-based task specifications.
A new series of ACCESS for ELLs is published every year in order to allow for continuous
refinement of the assessment. Approximately one-third of the test's items are refreshed
annually, which means that many test items are administered for three years prior
to their permanent retirement from the test. Performance-based tasks are refreshed
more frequently, with several tasks being refreshed annually.
Strictly following its specifications, each selected-response item or performance-based
task on ACCESS for ELLs is carefully developed, reviewed, piloted, and field tested
to ensure that it allows students to demonstrate meeting the targeted model performance
indicator at the targeted performance level from the standards, according to the
process outlined below:
Test Development Cycle
Every year, WIDA offers educators in the Consortium the opportunity to take its
Standards-based Test Item Writing and WIDA Teacher
Collaboration graduate course. By relying on such a course to generate test
items, ACCESS for ELLs is made relevant to students because the context for test
items is drawn from what teachers across the Consortium teach on a daily basis.
Test results are reviewed annually by WIDA's Technical Advisory
The ACCESS for ELLs Technical Reports address
the validity and reliability of the assessment.
WIDA supports local trainers (facilitators, coordinators, or Test Administrators)
by offering free use of its training materials related to ELD Standards, ACCESS
for ELLs, and the W-APT. You may edit the PowerPoints, but do not post them publicly.
To download the various PowerPoint presentations offered, please
login with your ACCESS for ELLs personal training account.
Roles in ACCESS for ELLs Preparation
This section is divided into three parts according to the various roles individuals
may have pertaining to ACCESS for ELLs test preparation. The State Test Coordinator,
District Test Coordinator, and Test Administrator roles are defined below:
State Test Coordinator Preparation
State Test Coordinators: These individuals are responsible for
the overall coordination of test administration activities within their state.
The responsibilities of state test coordinators involve coordinating with WIDA and
MetriTech, scheduling the testing window, enrolling test administrators in the online
training course, providing face-to-face training (as needed), verifying the certification
of test administrators, and arranging for reporting and dissemination of testing
District/School Test Coordinator Preparation
District/School Test Coordinators: These individuals are responsible
for the overall coordination of test administration activities within their district
These individuals are responsible for receiving, securing, distributing, and returning
test materials. They will arrange and schedule test sessions and generally oversee
all aspects of test administration, in particular, making sure that test administration
is performed by properly trained test administrators.
The following information and resources may be useful to district and school test
coordinators as they prepare for ACCESS for ELLs administration:
Ordering Test Materials
The ACCESS for ELLs assessment is a state-mandated test that can only be administered
on the dates your state has selected as its testing window. Please visit
your state's page of this website to find the dates for your state's ordering
and testing windows.
District test coordinators will be contacted by MetriTech, Inc., the ACCESS for
ELLs printing distributing, scoring, and reporting vendor, shortly before the test
ordering window opens.
- The information provided will include when and how to submit orders.
- Orders for test booklets and Pre-ID labels can be submitted online or by contacting
MetriTech customer service at 1-800-747-4868.
- Online orders require a secure login provided by MetriTech. To order, enter the
login at www.metritech.com/wida/login.aspx.
- Upon receiving test materials, test coordinators at the district and school level
should verify that the correct number of booklets was received, and materials should
be divided and delivered according to local practice.
The total number of student test booklets needed for a district must be organized
by school and specify the number of tests needed for each grade level cluster and
tier. A 10% overage of student test booklets is automatically added to the order;
do not order extra booklets. It is possible to order additional rush materials in
the middle of the testing window if the overage runs out and new students arrive.
Assigning Students to Tiers
The Tier Placement Protocol
assists test coordinators and teachers in determining the appropriate tier of ACCESS
for ELLs (A, B, or C) for each student. Please review this document to become familiar
with the appropriate test forms for students with varying English language proficiency
levels. In summary,
- When in doubt, you should order a tier B test for a student unless you have compelling
evidence that the student should be assessed on level 1 items (the least difficult--Tier
A) or level 5 items (the most difficult--Tier C).
- Note that a student cannot score higher than 4.0 on a tier A test, and can
score no higher than 5.0 on a tier B test in the domains of Reading and Listening.
- If you think a student is on the border between two tiers, order the higher of the
If a tiered booklet is incorrectly ordered for a student, test administrators are
encouraged to use one of the extra booklets provided by MetriTech to test the student
with a more appropriate tier booklet. Once the student has been administered any
portion of ACCESS for ELLs, s/he must proceed to complete the entire test within
the same tier.
Check out a WIDA blog pertaining to tier placement!
MetriTech will provide instructions to states or districts who decide to order Pre-ID
labels that can be attached to test booklets instead of bubbling in student demographic
information on every test booklet.
A blank data file template to fill out information for Pre-ID labels is provided
after logging into the MetriTech website.
The Pre-ID labels do not show all of the information that is embedded in the bar
code on the label, but suppressed demographic information associated with each student
is stored in the district's database at MetriTech. This information can be updated
during the data correction window for your state.
If any errors are visible in the information that is printed on the label,
please discard the label and bubble in all demographic information for the student.
Changing a piece of information on the Pre-ID label will not change the
information in the database when the test booklet is processed. The booklets are
machine scanned and the machine only reads the bar code portion of the label.
The Listening, Reading, and Writing sections of ACCESS for ELLs can be group administered.
The Speaking section is individually administered. WIDA recommends the following
- Listening and Reading can be scheduled together in one session lasting 75 minutes
- Writing should be scheduled in one session lasting 75 minutes
- Speaking takes approximately 15 minutes per student
- Note: the sessions can be scheduled in any order and can be done on separate days,
but a single test section cannot be split into separate sessions.
In the Downloads & Products section (top right), you will find some planning
tools to use when scheduling test sessions at each school and assigning students
to those sessions.
- If planning test sessions at a particular school site, coordinators might find it
helpful to use the Test Session Master Schedule to list all test
sessions scheduled for that school. Remember, tests can only be administered to
students in the same grade level cluster and tier in each session.
- Coordinators might find it helpful to use the Test Session Roster.
This document contains a blank roster to assign students to each test session.
For additional tips from a district coordinator on how she handles test scheduling, visit our blogsite
Handling and Returning Materials
ACCESS for ELLs is a secure test. Test materials must be handled securely and carefully,
and kept in locked storage when not in use.
MetriTech has prepared UPS Return Shipping Instructions and test
booklet Return Packing Instructions for coordinators to use as
they receive, distribute, collect, and return test materials (see Downloads &
Products at top right). The following are specific guidelines for handling and returning
- Use the same box(es) that you receive from MetriTech containing the test materials
to return them.
- Return Shipping Instructions and ARS shipping labels will be included in the original
shipment to the district.
Return instructions from the school to the district:
- After all test booklets, scripts, manuals, and auxiliary materials have been collected,
use the Security Checklist provided to verify that all serial numbers assigned to
your school have been collected.
- Test materials should first be divided into scorable and Unused/Non-scorable piles.
- Scorable is for all test booklets that need to be scored.
- Unused/Non-Scorable is for any unused test booklets, scripts, manuals, Kindergarten
ancillary kits, and completed or partially completed test booklets that should NOT
- Scorable test booklets then need to be categorized by grade level cluster and tier.
Each stack requires a separate School Header sheet to be placed on top. The School
Header sheet should be filled out with the grade level cluster, tier, and total
number of booklets for that stack.
- Unused and Non-scorable test booklets should be placed under the Unused and Non-Scorable
Test Materials header sheet.
Return instructions from the district to MetriTech:
The following 7-minute video demonstrates how to pack test booklets for return shipping:
Watch Packing Video
- After receiving all materials from each school, use the Packing List to verify that
all materials have been returned.
- Verify that the information on the School Header sheets match the stack of booklets
under each sheet.
- Scorable test booklets should be bagged up in increments of 20 (60 for Kindergarten
test booklets). If there are more than 20 test booklets for a school header sheet,
complete a header sheet for the total number of test booklets and put it in the
first bag. Pack the remaining books in subsequent bags, identify them with the school
name and make sure they are put under the first bag containing the header.
- More than one header with tests booklets can go in a bag. For example, a header
with 10 booklets, another header with 4 booklets, and a header with 6 booklets can
all go in one bag.
- More than one school's materials can go in a bag. For example, a header for School
A with 15 test booklets and a header for School B with 4 test booklets can all go
in one bag.
- Consolidate the Unused and Non-Scorable Test Materials piles from each school and
package them up in the last box(es).
- Complete the District Shipping Form with the number of boxes being returned and
place it on top of Box 1.
- Follow the return instructions packet to arrange a UPS pickup.
Training Materials for District/School Test Coordinators
Please see Sections 2 and 3 of the District and School Test Administration Manual
for more coordination details.
Always review and follow all state and local testing and security policies.
The Facilitator Toolkit contains a PowerPoint on ACCESS for ELLs Organization,
Online Training, and Testing Logistics to train district or school test coordinators.
Test Administrator Preparation
Test Administrators: These individuals administer the parts of
the ACCESS for ELLs test for which they have received appropriate training.
Online and/or face-to-face training may be required by your state in order for you
to become a test administrator (TA) for the first time. Some states also require
annual training updates for certified TAs. Please view
your state's page to review any requirements that may apply to you.
You can separately train on one, two, or three different areas of ACCESS for ELLs
- The group-administered components: Listening, Reading, and Writing
- The Speaking test component
- The Kindergarten test component
Note: The training course has been significantly updated to reflect the 2013-14 media-delivered Listening Test.
The choice of which areas to train in should be determined by the responsibilities
you have been assigned for testing by your district or school coordinator. Upon
completing this online training, you will be certified as a TA of all areas for
which you have successfully completed a quiz with a score of 80% or higher.
The online training takes approximately two to four hours, depending on which areas
you must complete. The online training may be completed in one sitting, or in as
many sessions as necessary, ideally within one to two weeks of when you will be
administering the test.
A personal account is required to access the training course on this website. Only
educators in Consortium member states can create accounts to take the training.
Please note that member states have different policies for who can take the training
and how to access the Account Creator.
For general instructions on how to create accounts in the online training course,
please download the General Instructions on Creating Training Accounts
document (see Downloads & Products at top right).
Test administration training and certification is crucial for successful administration
of ACCESS for ELLs, and answers to many frequently asked questions about test administration
are answered in the training. Please see the
Test Administrator section of the Preparation tab for more information on
State and District Test Coordinators are responsible for ensuring prior to administration
of ACCESS for ELLs that all test administrators have been adequately trained
and have passed the applicable online quizzes.
Test Coordinators can monitor their district educators' training certification results
in the online course by clicking on "My Quizzes", followed by the "District
View" tab. If you are a District Test Coordinator and do not see this tab in
the training course, please call the WIDA Client Services Center at 1-866-276-7735 or email email@example.com to request it.
Grades 1-12 Listening, Reading, and Writing
- Listening and Reading sections consist of multiple choice questions
- Writing section prompts the student for a constructed response
- Can be administered in groups of up to 22 students
- Separate test forms for each grade level cluster and tier; students from different
clusters or tiers must be separated into different sessions
- Scored by WIDA's partner, MetriTech, not by the local test administrator (TA)
- Note: The 2013-14 Listening Test is media-delivered. TAs should retake the Group Test Administration module and quiz.
Grades 1-12 Speaking
- Individually administered
- Not tiered; all students in the same grade level cluster take the same test
- Adaptive, meaning items are presented until the student reaches his/her performance
- Scored locally by the TA; each item must be scored before moving on to the next
- Individually administered
- Not tiered; all students take the same test
- All domains (Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing) are tested twice, once within
the expository section and once within the narrative section
- Speaking and Listening are presented together, alternating between a listening task
followed by a speaking task
- All sections are adaptive, meaning items are presented until the student reaches
his/her performance "ceiling"
- Scored locally by the TA
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
The WIDA Consortium encourages the
participation of all English language learners in the ACCESS for ELLs testing program
and feels that it is an appropriate assessment for all students except those with the most significant disabilities.
The ACCESS for ELLs has "built in" certain standard features of the test
that might lessen the need for accommodations. For example, the thematic orientation
of the test and the reliance on graphic support are features that should lend themselves
to enhanced comprehension, not only for ELLs in general, but for many students with
special needs. However, certain testing accommodations may be appropriate for some
Testing accommodations are changes in the way a student is given a test or asked
to respond to test questions. They are meant to offset the challenges caused by
a disability without changing what the test measures. Testing accommodations
strive to provide students with disabilities an equal opportunity to demonstrate
their English language proficiency. While decisions about which accommodations are
allowable ultimately fall on your state educational agency, WIDA provides
guidelines for appropriate accommodations for English Language Learners with disabilities.
ACCESS for ELLs scores can be used to:
- Monitor student progress on an annual basis
- Establish when ELLs have attained English language proficiency according to state
- Inform classroom instruction and assessment
- Aid in programmatic decision-making
Your state has determined when score reports will be sent to your district. To find
your state's window for shipment of score reports, please visit
your state's page of this website.
Scores and Proficiency Levels
Student results are reported in three ways: as raw scores, scale scores, and English
language proficiency (ELP) levels.
Scores are reported for each of the four language domains and in several composites
- Composite scores as diagrammed in the image below:
Learn about the process for scoring and reporting ACCESS for ELLs at our partner company, MetriTech, Inc.
Five different ACCESS for ELLs score reports are provided to districts:
- Parent/Guardian Report
- Teacher Report
- Student Roster Report
- School Frequency Report
- District Frequency Report
Interpretive Guide to Score Reports
For detailed information on how to interpret and apply ACCESS for ELLs scores and
proficiency levels, download the Interpretive Guide for Score Reports.
Part 1 of the Interpretive Guide describes the types of scores generated by ACCESS
for ELLs assessment and provides cut score tables for each grade level.
Part 2 describes each score report and offers information on the meaning and use
of data in the reports.
Within the Facilitator Toolkit, a PowerPoint on Score Interpretation
is available for local trainers looking to expand awareness about how to interpret
ACCESS for ELLs test results.
Translations of Letters and Score Reports
Translations of the Parent/Guardian Report and Sample Letters
to Accompany the Parent/Guardian Report (available under Downloads
& Products at top right) are provided to make ACCESS for ELLs testing information
and results more accessible to students' family members. Translated reports should
accompany (not replace) the official report in English.
Note: If you have not installed a particular language's
font on your computer, the Word file may be translated by your software into Latin
characters and a variety of symbols. You may be able to find free downloads of many
fonts on the Internet. However, we have provided the PDF file in case you do not
have the correct fonts in your word processing program.
Share with the Consortium! All sample letters, translated
letters, and Parent/Guardian Report translations were provided by consortium member
school districts and generously shared for the benefit of the whole Consortium.
If you translate letters or reports into additional languages, other districts and
states could probably benefit from your work. Please send new translations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACCESS for ELLs Growth Reports are intended to help educators identify district- and school-level patterns in language growth. They can be used along with other information as one source of data to help understand systems-level strengths and needs. These reports are available to districts and schools at an additional cost, and include:
- Growth data for students with two years of test scores for multiple two-year-spans
- Growth data for every domain and composite at each grade level
- District-level and school-level reports
- Charts showing students’ growth compared to WIDA-wide growth
- Tables that show the number and percent of students with two years of scores
- Downloadable CSV files of student data
The growth reports should not be used for:
View sample subscription site
Download a sample report
To purchase reports for your district or school or get more information, contact MetriTech at 800-747-4868 and ask for WIDA support.
Cost: The price for an annual subscription per district or school is: $200 + 15 cents per student (based on the number of ELL students in the district or school for the most recent ACCESS for ELLs test administration calculated by MetriTech)
An annual subscription will last for one year from the date of purchase.
Growth Reports User Guide
For detailed information on how to use the ACCESS for ELLs Growth Reports, download the ACCESS for ELLs Growth Reports User Guide.
The user guide explains each component of the growth reports. It describes language growth trajectories and WIDA-wide percentile growth. It also has detailed examples of how to use the information in the reports.