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EL Assessment Update: ACCESS for ELLs Online Test Setup

To:Principals, District EL Program Directors, ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators, and Educational Technology Directors
From:Dan Wiener, Administrator of Inclusive Assessment
Melanie Manares, English Proficiency Assessment Coordinator
Date:December 5, 2019

This update provides guidance to schools preparing to administer the ACCESS for ELLs test in January and February 2020.

2019 State Results Posted for Reporting Element #4

Reporting Element 4 provides information to Title III districts and consortia regarding the number and percent of Former ELs and Former ELs with disabilities who are meeting challenging state academic content standards for each of the four years after those students exited EL status.

The 2019 results for Title III Reporting Element 4 are now posted on the ACCESS for ELLs Results page.

ACCESS Test Coordinator Training Powerpoint Posted

The Powerpoint used for this fall's ACCESS Test Coordinator Training for New Test Coordinators webinar is now available on the MA State Page of the WIDA website in the Manuals, Guides, and Test Materials section. The Powerpoint is titled "ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinator Workshop PowerPoint." Please note that minor revisions have been made since the webinars were presented in November.

Pre-ID Upload of Student Data

The Pre-ID Student Data File will be available in DropBox in the Security Portal on December 5. Between December 5, 2019 and February 7, 2020, test coordinators will be able to review student data for their school and perform the following tasks:

  • manage student records by reviewing the names and accommodations information, including online or paper ACCESS testing, for each student and revising as needed;
  • enter information for students who arrived after the October 2019 SIMS submission;
  • review names of students placed into test sessions; and
  • print test tickets.

The Department indicated in prior communications that paper-based tests would be pre-ordered for first-year ELs. However, the Pre-ID file has now been revised to reflect online testing for first-year ELs. First-year ELs who are unable to take the computer-based test will be allowed to take the paper-based test and use the handwriting booklet for the writing test, but schools must order paper tests and handwriting booklets during the Additional Test Materials Ordering window for those students.

Also see the WIDA AMS User Guide for details.

Students for whom Pre-ID data was submitted will be grouped automatically in test sessions, by grade cluster, for each of the four tested domains (Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking). Grouping in test sessions does not mean that these students must be tested together, only that similar students have been grouped together during the pre-loading of files. To view test sessions, log in to WIDA AMS, click on Test Management, and then click on Manage Test Sessions. This view can be filtered by a specific district or school and displays the status of the test session: Not Started, In Progress, or Completed.

For detailed instructions on Test Setup, please refer to the WIDA AMS Guide and Videos section of the WIDA Secure Portal. You can find this by selecting ACCESS for ELLs Training Courses > Online Grades 1–12. You may also refer to the WIDA Assessment Management System (WIDA AMS) User Guide located in WIDA AMS under All Applications > General Information > Documents for more information on Test Setup.

Once student data is entered, test tickets (secure documents) will be available to print and the test may be administered. Directions for printing test tickets are provided on page 113 of the WIDA AMS User Guide.

Options for Managing Student Data

Data can be managed in WIDA AMS either for individual or multiple students, according to options A and B described below.

  • Option A: Uploading your school or district's Student Data File from DropBox

    To make any changes to the file, prepare the file as follows:

    1. Download the pre-populated school or district Student Data File (October SIMS in CSV format) at Security Portal => Applications List => Drop Box Central => ACCESS Data 2020 => WIDA_PreID_2020ACCESS_XXXXXXXX (8 digit school or district code).

    2. Identify and correct any errors in this file. Students cannot be removed from the file. (Those students must be marked as "transfer" or "non-EL" in the March 2020 SIMS).

    3. Data fields A–K and M must be completed to add a student who entered the school after the October SIMS submission. All other fields may be left blank.

    4. Data fields AF–AU should be reviewed and revised as needed for students who require accommodations.

    5. Save the Student Data File in CSV format.

    6. Upload your completed Student Data File as a CSV to WIDA AMS. The Student Data File can be uploaded to Manage Students (a function within WIDA AMS) as described on page 76 of the WIDA AMS User Guide

    7. To create test sessions, follow directions on pages 116–119 of the WIDA AMS User Guide.

  • Option B: Uploading your school or district's Student Data File from WIDA AMS (Users may find WIDA AMS easier to navigate than the DropBox.)

    You may enter or edit students' demographic information and accommodations by following the directions below and described on pages 68–75 of the WIDA AMS User Guide.

    1. To review and edit student information, login to WIDA AMS, select All Applications => Student Management => Manage Students.

      1. Under Manage Students, complete the information for your Test Administration, District, and School.
      2. Then click on Find Students.
      3. Click on Instructions for information on updating accommodations, adding students, etc.

    2. To place new students in test sessions, login to the WIDA AMS, select All Applications => Test Management => Manage Test Sessions. The student must be placed in a test session before a test ticket can be printed for the student. Click on Instructions for information on managing test sessions.


For students who took the ACCESS test in 2019 and have accommodations pre-loaded, verify that the accommodations in the 2020 student file are correct, and make necessary updates if the student's status has changed or if data were previously entered inaccurately.

Enter accommodations for new students, as needed, or for students whose accommodations were not pre-loaded. If a student with a disability requires one or more of the following online accommodations, these should be entered before printing test tickets:

  • Manual control of item audio (MC)
  • Repeat item audio (RA)
  • Extended Speaking test response time (ES).

Other accommodations may be entered either before, during, or after testing until the last day of testing, February 7, 2020.

The Department has pre-loaded the accommodations used by each student who took the ACCESS tests last year, including:

  • Manual control of item audio (MC)*
  • Repeat item audio (RA)*
  • Human Reader for Listening response options (HR)
  • Human Reader for repeat of response options one time (RR)
  • Human Reader for items (HI)
  • Human Reader for repeat of items (RI)
  • Large print version of test (LP)
  • Braille version of test (BR)
  • Scribed response (SR)
  • Word processor or similar keyboarding device to respond to test items (WD)
  • Student responds using a recording device, which is played back and transcribed by student (RD)
  • Test may be administered by school personnel in a non-school setting, with ESE approval (NS)
  • Extended Speaking test response time (ES)*
  • Interpreter signs test directions in ASL (SD)

* This accommodation must be ordered in the Pre-ID file to ensure the student receives this version of the online test.

Students Who Will Handwrite Their Responses on the Online Writing Test

All students in grades 1–3 will handwrite responses on the Writing test. You will automatically receive test booklets for these students. For students in grades 4–12, handwriting booklets will only be available to students with disabilities and first-year ELs (i.e., a student who was first reported as EL in the October 2019 SIMS) who are unable to take the computer-based test. Information on use of handwriting booklets should be included in the IEP or 504 plan of any student with a disability. Test booklets must be ordered for these students through the Additional Test Materials Ordering process. Students who will handwrite responses will need to be moved from the generic online Writing test sessions where they were placed automatically into a handwriting test session. Instructions for adding a test session can be found on page 102 of the WIDA AMS User Guide.

Massachusetts State Specific Directions

The Massachusetts State-Specific Directions for administering the 2020 ACCESS tests is available on both the Department's ACCESS for ELLs web page as well as the MA State Page on the WIDA website.

Electronic Forms Available on "Service Now"

The following forms are available on the Department's ACCESS for ELLs webpage:

  • Request for Permission to Test a Student in an Alternate Setting: ACCESS for ELLs
  • ACCESS for ELLs Irregularity Reporting Form
  • Tier Selection Override, For students with disabilities only
  • Test Discrepancies: Request a Scoring Appeal or Test Booklet Search

Click on the link for the form that addresses the situation you are reporting. A response will be provided to the person whose contact information was provided on the form.

Reminder for Educational Technology Directors: Retire Testing Site Manager (TSM) Software and Migrate to Central Office Service (COS)-Service Device

The DRC INSIGHT Testing Site Manager software application (TSM) used by schools and districts to download test content has been retired. Please ensure that your district's Educational Technology staff has successfully retired TSMs and migrated to the Central Office Service (COS) - Service Device in all local configurations. TSMs will no longer be supported and users with a TSM in a COS Configuration will receive an error message when DRC INSIGHT is launched if TSMs have not been migrated to COS-SD.

Information on the COS-SD installation process is available in WIDA AMS (WIDA AMS account log-in required) under All Applications => General Information => Documents => Show Documents.

  • TSM to COS Transition Video Instructions — A step by step video that outlines the transition from TSM to COS-SD.
  • COS-SD Technology User Guide — A guide that describes how to configure, install, manage, and troubleshoot DRC INSIGHT if you are using a COS-SD.
  • Tech Bulletin: TSM to COS Service Device — Summarizes the process of migrating an existing configuration from a TSM to a COS-SD.

Additional resources for Educational Technology Directors are available in the WIDA Download Library, including ACCESS for ELLs Headset Specifications, Technology Readiness Checklist, and more. For assistance, please contact the DRC Customer Service at 1-855-787-9615.

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: December 5, 2019

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


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