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EL Assessment Update: WIDA Screener for Kindergarten and Important Reminders

To:Principals, 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:April 13, 2021

Greetings. We are well into ACCESS testing and the weather is beginning to feel very much like spring. We wish you the best for the remaining weeks of the school year. Thank you to the schools that have been implementing the ACCESS for ELLs tests and alternate assessments. To date, more than 42,000 students have completed testing. Included in this update is important information regarding the new WIDA Screener for Kindergarten and other useful resources and important reminders.

WIDA Screener for Kindergarten

The WIDA Screener for Kindergarten is an individually administered paper-and-pencil screener test for incoming kindergarteners that helps educators identify students as English learners. School and district staff who currently have access to the K W-APT now also have access to the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten tile in the WIDA Secure Portal. Anyone needing access should call the WIDA Help Desk at 866-276-7735 to request permission to access the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten tile.

However, the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten is not yet operational. DESE is working to make sure the new WIDA screener is calibrated with the existing Kindergarten W-APT. We invite EL Program Directors to assist us by completing a brief survey regarding current practices and rates of EL identification using the Kindergarten W-APT.

At this time, DESE recommends that test administrators become familiar with the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten, including how it will be scored, and the use of materials and training located by clicking the WIDA Secure Portal tile. Schools should continue to use the K W-APT or the K MODEL as they have in the past to identify incoming kindergarten students until further guidance for using the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten is released, most likely in fall 2021.

2021 ACCESS for ELLs "Office Hours" — Question and Answer Sessions

The Department is offering several additional "Office Hours" sessions to ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators, EL Program Directors, and Principals to ask clarifying questions about the 2021 ACCESS test administration. "Office Hours" will be conducted via Zoom and participants will be required to register ahead of time for each session they wish to attend. There will be a limit to the number of participants from each district but each participant may register for more than one session. "Office Hours" sessions are scheduled for:

  • April 13, 2021 — 1:00–2:00
  • April 29, 2021 — 1:30–2:30
  • May 13, 2021 — 1:30–2:30

Participants may register. A confirmation email will appear on your screen once you have successfully registered. An email with the link to the webinar will be sent to you upon completing registration. Email with questions about registration.

Available Resources and Forms

The School and District ACCESS for ELLs Planning Guide During COVID-19 Download Word Document is intended to help schools and districts prepare for safe in-person ACCESS testing and includes health and safety protocols, logistical considerations for testing, and how best to communicate with families. The planning guide is available on the DESE ACCESS web page.

Instructions for Student Transfers During Testing can be found on the DESE ACCESS web page. This resource provides steps to take if a student moves in to or out of your school or district and when to complete the student transfer form in WIDA AMS. The student transfer form is found in WIDA AMS under Student Management > Student Transfer Form.

Several online Service Now forms are available during the ACCESS for ELLs testing window. The most commonly used forms for ACCESS testing include:

  • Service Now Form: ACCESS for ELLs Irregularity Reporting. This form should be used to report testing irregularities. Some examples of irregularities include:
    • student took a test with an incorrect test ticket
    • incorrect accommodations were used during the test
    • student used a cell phone during the test
    • test interrupted due to electricity or internet outage
  • Service Now Form: Request Permission to Test a Student in an Alternate Setting (ACCESS for ELLs). This form is used for students, particularly students with disabilities, who require a test setting other than their regular classroom or school. An alternate setting must be a public building and the test must be supervised by a trained district staffperson who has passed the necessary certification quizzes to test the student(s).
  • Service Now Form: Tier Override Request. This form is used when a student with a disability is unable to take the Listening or Reading test due to an unavailable accommodation and as a result, an incorrect tier for the Speaking and/or Writing test is generated for the student.

Additional Test Materials Ordering Reminder

We would also like to remind schools that additional test materials orders should be limited to one order per school, if possible. Prior to placing an additional materials order, schools should first check their initial materials shipment to determine if any materials in the overage can be used. If additional materials are needed, school test coordinators should use the "Materials" menu in WIDA AMS and choose the Additional Materials tab to place their additional materials order. The last day for ordering additional materials is May 14, 2021.

Reporting Students Who are Not Tested

Students will have until May 20, 2021 to complete ACCESS testing. Please continue to work with parents to ensure that they understand the benefits of testing so that students can participate in person prior to the end of the testing window. Schools should not apply Do Not Score code ABS in WIDA AMS for students who have not yet started testing. Instead, untested students should remain in their WIDA AMS test sessions as "Not Started." Use the ABS Do Not Score code at the end of the window for students who did not attend any test sessions. Students who have not tested in any domain will be considered as nonparticipants in 2021 ACCESS testing. The Department is currently exploring flexibility options for schools and districts regarding student participation rates on 2021 ACCESS tests.

Do Not Score code ("SPD")

The Do Not Score code "SPD" should only be selected when a student with certain disabilities described on page 5 of the Principal's Pre-Administration Manual, is not tested due to an unavailable accommodation. Such students should be tested in the remaining domains using the accommodations indicated in their IEP.

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 information.

Last Updated: April 13, 2021

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