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Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

ELL Assessment Update - Important Clarification of ACCESS for ELLs Testing Policies

To:Principals and English Language Learner (ELL) Directors
From:Dan Wiener, Administrator of Inclusive Assessment
Date:January 14, 2013


Greetings! As you know, the state's implementation of the first ACCESS for ELLs test administration began last Thursday and will extend until February 13. Based on recent inquiries from schools and districts, I am providing you with important updates and clarification of several testing policies. Please forward this information to relevant staff who are coordinating testing or administering tests in your school.

Massachusetts Supplement to the Test Administration Manual (TAM)

Please carefully review the Massachusetts Supplement to the TAM, posted at This is the yellow insert in the ACCESS for ELLs Test Administration Manual that you received with your school's testing materials. The Supplement includes specific instructions on completing test booklets for ELL students:

  • With and without student ID labels,
  • Who receive test accommodations (ELL students with disabilities only),
  • Who may not be required to take one or more sections of the test.

Listening Test Update

Answer options on the Listening test are presented in the test booklets either as graphics or text. According to instructions for administering the Listening test, the answer options must be read by the student, not the teacher. However, ELLs with disabilities who have accommodation 16 or 26 (test read aloud) listed in their IEP or 504 plan, and those who are designated for alternate assessments but are required to take the Listening and Speaking tests, may have text-based answer options read aloud to them. This means that those students must be tested in a separate setting with up to 5 other students who are permitted to have the text on the Listening test read aloud.

Note: Please recall that students who require Accommodation 26 (read-aloud on the Reading test), or other unavailable accommodations, are not required to participate in the Reading or Writing tests, but must participate in both the Listening and Speaking tests. See page 5 of the Participation Requirements for ELL Students Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD Document for information on accommodations that are unavailable for ACCESS for ELLs testing.

Reviewing Test Materials Before Testing

Instructions in the TAM state that "test administrators have an opportunity prior to testing students to familiarize themselves with … test materials for the grade-level cluster(s) of the test they will be administering," which differs from the customary Massachusetts testing policy which does not permit prior review of test materials. For ACCESS for ELLs, the Department will permit test administrators the opportunity to review ACCESS for ELLs test materials within 24 hours of actual test administration under the supervision of the principal. No test materials may be taken from the area under the principal's supervision until the actual test administration, nor may materials be removed from the school building.

Timed vs. Untimed Testing

The Massachusetts Supplement to the TAM outlines the testing times for each domain of the test which must be followed with one important exception. ELL students with disabilities who either have an IEP or 504 plan may be given additional testing time up to the end of the school day, as needed, for any of the four test sections (Reading, Writing, Speaking, or Listening).

The designated testing times apply only to the time that students are working on the test and do not include set-up time, reading directions, or giving breaks to students between tests.

If you have further questions about administering ACCESS for ELLs tests, please contact the MetriTech Help desk at800-747-4868, or Paulette Watson at or 781-338-3625.

Thank you for your attention to this important information and best wishes for a successful ACCESS for ELLs test administration.

Last Updated: January 16, 2013
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