ELL Assessment Update: Back-to-School

To:Principals, District ELL Program Directors, ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators, and ACCESS for ELLs Technology Coordinators
From:Dan Wiener, Administrator of Inclusive Assessment
Alexis Glick, English Proficiency Assessment Coordinator
Bridgette Kelly, Educational Specialist
Date:September 6, 2017

Greetings and welcome back to school. We are providing you with preliminary information on the 2018 ACCESS for ELLs tests, and additional information and resources to assist in your preparation to administer the ACCESS tests in January/February 2018. The Student Assessment office will provide you with frequent updates during the school year to familiarize you and your staff with testing requirements and assist in planning and scheduling the ACCESS tests. The Fall 2017 ACCESS Principal's Pre-Administration Manual will be available soon with details on the tasks to be completed by schools prior to testing. Please review and forward this and future ELL Assessment Updates to your staff, as appropriate.

Identify staff to serve as Test Coordinator and Technology Coordinator

During September, principals may either assume the responsibility of, or designate a staff person to serve as, the ACCESS for ELLs School Test Coordinator. The district should assign a District Test Coordinator and a District Technology Coordinator. Designations should be made as soon as possible and communicated to your District Directory Administrator who will need to update your school's ESE Profile by September 15, since these individuals will receive important communications from WIDA and Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), the testing contractor, throughout the year.

Training for New ACCESS Test Coordinators - Workshop Dates

Districts may register up to two first-time test coordinators to attend a 2018 ACCESS training session, scheduled for the following locations:
  • Holyoke Community College - Wednesday, September 27, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (face-to-face)

  • Massasoit Community College, Brockton - Thursday, October 5, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (face-to-face)

Training for New and Returning ACCESS Test Coordinators - Conference Call Dates

Districts may register an unlimited number of test coordinators to attend a 2018 ACCESS training session conference call, scheduled for the following dates and times:

WIDA Webinars

WIDA will hold monthly webinars from September 2017-May 2018. The webinar schedule, topics, and the links to join webinars are available on the ACCESS for ELLs Preparation and Training page.

Reporting ELL students accurately in October SIMS

Please ensure that ELL students are reported accurately in the district's October 2017 Student Information Management System (SIMS) submission, and inform your District Directory Administrator of students who have exited ELL status who should no longer be reported as LEP/ELL.

2018 ACCESS for ELLs: Important Dates

Schools order ACCESS for ELLs test materials
(Determine if your school will administer paper- and/or online ACCESS assessments before ordering.)
October 23-November 10, 2017
Online test set-upDecember 11, 2017-February 7, 2018
Test materials arrive in schoolsJanuary 2, 2018
Test administration windowJanuary 4-February 7, 2018
Last date for schools to return test materialsFebruary 9, 2018
Results reported to schools and districtsMay 31, 2018 (Tentative)

Paper or online testing

The Commissioner has strongly encouraged schools to move as quickly as possible to computer-based testing for all students no later than the 2019 test administration. 2018 ACCESS tests will be available in either online or paper formats for students in grades 1-12. Before placing the school's order for test materials, schools must determine whether to administer the computer- or paper-based tests to their ELL students, and to order their test materials accordingly. Schools may choose to give computer- or paper-based ACCESS assessments, or a combination of both (e.g., computer in some grades and paper in others). In schools giving computer-based tests, paper-based versions will be available as an accommodation for ELLs with disabilities. ACCESS handwriting booklets for the Writing test will continue to be available for students taking the computer-based test in the other three test domains (Reading, Listening, and Speaking). Kindergarten and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs tests will continue to be given in paper-based formats for students designated for those assessments.

Ordering ACCESS test materials

Schools will receive an email from DRC, WIDA's testing contractor, on or about October 16 with instructions for ordering test materials through the WIDA Assessment Management System (AMS), the online administrative portal, until the end of the ordering window on November 10. If ordering paper-based test materials, it is recommended that test coordinators view the Ordering Materials training module on the WIDA website before placing their orders. Certification Requirements - See the upcoming 2017 2018 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Checklist (coming September 29) for more information regarding required online training modules.

Computer-Based Testing

All Test Coordinators and Test Administrators, including those administering ACCESS for the first time and with prior experience, must view the online training modules for computer-based (online) testing, and pass the Online Administration Quiz with a score of 80% or above. Technology Coordinators must review the training materials and complete the checklist for Technology Coordinators located in WIDA AMS.

Paper-Based Testing

All Test Coordinators and Test Administrators, including those with prior experience and those administering ACCESS for the first time, must view the online training modules and pass the Online Administration Quiz with a score of 80% or above for any of the following assessments that will be administered:
  • Group Test Administration (Listening, Reading, and Writing)
  • Speaking
  • Kindergarten
  • Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

WIDA Personal Accounts

A WIDA personal account will be required to access the training materials and other resources available on the WIDA website. WIDA accounts set up previously are still active. Do not create a new personal account. Educators who wish to set up an account may do so by following the instructions posted on the Department's website. WIDA personal accounts may be updated with new information (e.g., if moving to a new district or WIDA-member state) by first logging in, then using the gray column on the right. Contact WIDA Help at 866-276-7735 or for assistance in setting up or accessing a WIDA personal account.

WIDA AMS Accounts

A WIDA Assessment Management System (AMS) account will be required to order test materials; manage the addition, updating, and deletion of student names and information; manage the administration of online ACCESS tests; and view score reports. Existing WIDA AMS accounts will remain active for 2018 ACCESS testing. Existing users can create accounts for new users in their district or school. Instructions can be found in the WIDA AMS User Guide (2017 Guide coming soon to Key Resources) or contact your District or School ACCESS Test Coordinator.

Chromebook Users - Auto Updates for Online Testing System Requirements

If Chromebooks have been unused for a period time (as is common in the summer months), on first use they may automatically update in the background which can interfere with the Speaking recording capture on the online WIDA "Screener" assessment and during online ACCESS test administration. Changing the Google Admin Policy to "stop auto updates" does not resolve this problem. WIDA has posted the Supported System Requirements for ACCESS for ELLs and Screener which includes a section on "Automatic Operating System Updates and Other Background Processes" (page 6) with guidance on completing Chromebook operating system updates prior to the start of screening and testing.

Important - DRC Technology - System Updates

The insight secure browser 8.0 and Testing Site Manager (TSM) 9.2 will be updated on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 6. All TSMs that are online with auto update turned on will be updated with the new version and the secure browser will be automatically updated when computers are turned on. Please ensure that all TSMs are turned on and operating on September 6 prior to screening any students beginning on Sept. 7.

Device Toolkit Enhancement

In late August 2017, DRC enhanced the Device Toolkit, which is the interface used to manage and configure testing devices for WIDA Screener Online and ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessments. The Device Toolkit Enhancements document provides an overview of the changes and steps for using the new interface to configure your testing environment. In addition, WIDA and DRC have developed a tutorial and quick demo to support users.

DRC System Status web page

The DRC System Status web page provides real-time updates on operations and occasional outages of WIDA AMS, INSIGHT, the Testing Site Manager, and Educator Scoring (On Demand Reports). Educators can now subscribe (click button in upper right corner) to receive email updates when the status of any online system changes. We encourage you to take advantage of this feature that will make you immediately aware of any service interruptions impacting the WIDA Screener or ACCESS for ELLs testing.

Release of 2017 ACCESS for ELLs Test Results - Update

Schools and districts received their printed ACCESS reports last May 31. Electronic results are also available in WIDA AMS. Additional resources and interpretive information are described in the Department's May 12 ELL Assessment Update. Below is the tentative timetable for the Department's release of additional information about the performance of ELL students on the ACCESS tests:
  • CSV data file containing students' test status, scores, and proficiency levels are now available in the Department's Gateway Portal (Drop Box Central - ACCESS Data 2017 folder). In addition to 2017 ACCESS for ELLs results, the file also contains students' 2016 overall scaled scores and proficiency levels based on the new ACCESS 2.0 score scale. A data file with Student Growth Percentiles for ACCESS (SGPAs) will be available in a CSV file in DropBox Central around the end of September.
  • Progress indicators (Yes or No), and Attainment indicators (Yes or No) for each student will be available in a CSV file in DropBox Central likely in late October.
  • Student Rosters (EL627) and aggregate District and School Summaries, including participation rate (EL327), will be available in Edwin Analytics in the Gateway Portal around mid-October. (Note: The percent of students in the district making progress will not appear in this report.)
  • Percent of students in each district who have met their growth-to-proficiency targets will be reported on the ESE website likely in late November early December.
Information about changes to the 2017 ACCESS score scale and the likely effect of these changes on students' scores is located at 2017 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Score Changes.

Test Administration Resources on the Department's website (available now or coming soon)

  • ACCESS for ELLs Principal's Pre-Administration Manual: Tasks to be completed in Fall 2017 - coming soon
  • Bilingual Dictionaries and Glossaries Authorized for Use by English Language Learners on MCAS Tests (Updated Fall 2017) - coming soon
  • Accessibility and Accommodations Manual for the Spring 2018 MCAS Grades 3-8 Tests (Including Participation Requirements and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners)
  • Requirements for the Participation of Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners in the 2017 2018 MCAS High School Tests
Please contact Student Assessment Services with any questions about ACCESS for ELLs testing at or by phone at 781-338-3625. Thank you for your attention to this important information.

Last Updated: September 18, 2017

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