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ACCESS for ELLs Assessment Update: ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Coming in 2016

To:Principals and English Language Learner (ELL) Directors
From:Dan Wiener, Administrator of Inclusive Assessment
Paulette Watson, ACCESS for ELLs Coordinator
Date:May 27, 2014


Greetings! We are writing to give you a preview of important changes to the ACCESS for ELLs assessments that will go in effect for the January 2016 test administration, and to make you aware of an opportunity to participate in field-testing one portion of the new tests in spring 2015. A detailed memo will be issued next fall outlining the requirements of participation in the field test.

New ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Computer-Based Assessments

As you know, Massachusetts is a member of the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) consortium and annually administers the ACCESS for ELLs assessments, based on the WIDA English Language Development Standards, to English language learners in kindergarten through grade 12. Recently, WIDA was awarded a federal grant to develop a "next generation" computer-based English language proficiency assessment, called ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, that will be introduced in Massachusetts and in 35 other WIDA member states in the 2015-2016 school year. The new assessment will include:

  • online delivery of tests in Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing for ELLs in grades 1 12. The kindergarten tests and the Alternate ACCESS will remain the same;
  • a paper-based testing alternative for ELL students who cannot take computer-based tests, including younger students, some students with disabilities, and those who attend schools that currently lack sufficient technology to administer online tests;
  • a new online English language proficiency "screener" that will replace the W-APT.

Of particular interest are:

  • new Speaking tests that will be computer-administered to students wearing headsets, with microphones that will digitally record their responses, eliminating the need for staff to administer Speaking tests individually. Test administrators would no longer need to retrain and qualify each year to give the online Speaking test; and
  • built-in accessibility features and accommodations appropriate for a range of student needs and preferences, similar to the PARCC online accessibility features and accommodations. These are likely to reduce the need for staff to administer accommodations; for example, in one-to-one and small-group test administrations, in separate test settings, and as scribes.

Additional information about the new ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 tests is available at What's New in ACCESS for ELLs 2.0. We will continue to make you aware of new developments as information becomes available.

ACCESS 2.0 Field Test

Each WIDA member state has been asked to conduct a field test of one new sub-domain ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test. Massachusetts has been designated to administer the Listening field test, between February 23 and March 31, 2015. The Listening field test will be administered in one test session of about one hour duration, using streamed audio files on a computer. Students will enter their responses on a computer screen. Next fall we will provide you with additional information about participating in the field test.

Participation in the Listening field test will be voluntary, but please consider this opportunity now. If you have additional questions about the Listening field test, or if you wish to volunteer your school to participate, please contact Paula White ( or 608-263-4353) at WIDA. Some of the benefits of field test participation include:

  • giving students exposure to ACCESS for ELLS 2.0 and providing staff with experience administering the online assessment;
  • contributing to ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test development, through the consortium's use of your students' test data;
  • receiving headphones free of charge for any school or district that needs them to conduct the field test;
  • receiving a copy of your district's ACCESS for ELLs Growth Report, in appreciation for participating (a $200 value). WIDA developed the ACCESS for ELLs Growth Reports to show district- and school-level growth trends. The report compares your students' English language proficiency (ELP) growth over two years with the growth of students across the WIDA consortium. Specifically, the reports compare how your students grew on ACCESS for ELLs by grade span, language domain, starting ELP level, and composite scores.

For questions on ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, please contact Paulette Watson at or 781-338-3625.

Thank you for your attention to this important information.

Last Updated: May 23, 2014
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