Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Logo
The Department has moved to 135 Santilli Highway in Everett. The Department's office and Licensure Welcome Center are open. The new location has free parking and is a short walk from the Wellington station on the MBTA's Orange Line.


EL Assessment Update: Request to Return Completed Test Materials and an Invitation to Apply

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:February 8, 2022

Greetings. Please review the following important information about ACCESS for ELLs.

Urgent Request: Please Return Completed Grades 1–3 Writing Materials

Schools that have already completed some or all of their Grades 1–3 Writing tests are encouraged to return their hand-writing test booklets to DRC before February 14. Schools do not have to wait until the end of the test window to return paper materials to DRC. Returning the hand-writing test booklets to DRC early helps support scoring and timely reporting of results. Thank you!

Additional Test Materials Ordering and Last Day to Test Newly-Enrolled Students

Additional materials may be ordered in WIDA AMS as needed for students who enrolled after the October SIMS count was reported to DESE. The Additional Materials Ordering Window closes on February 25. Yellow District/School labels will not be included with additional orders shipments and must be ordered separately, if needed, by emailing . These will be mailed separately via regular mail. Please attempt to limit your additional materials orders to one per school.

The last day for testing newly enrolled students is February 25 (or February 18, if your school will be closed Feb 21–25). Please schedule additional test materials ordering and testing of newly enrolled students accordingly.

WIDA Screener for Kindergarten

On March 1, 2022, the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten ("K Screener") will be available for use in identifying kindergarten and first-semester first grade students as English learners. The "cut scores" for determining whether an incoming student is an English learner will be announced in the next EL Assessment Update, scheduled for the last week in February.

The K Screener is aligned with the WIDA standards and the ACCESS for ELLs tests and, while not required, is a free and sensible alternative to the K W-APT and K MODEL screeners.

Prospective K Screener administrators must be trained and qualified to administer the new K screener by logging into their WIDA Secure Portal account. After logging in, click the Assessment Training tab at the top of the page, then click the box for "Screener for Kindergarten."

If you are a first-time test administrator or test coordinator, please visit the DESE ACCESS web page for instructions for creating a WIDA personal account in order to access the training.

If you are a returning test administrator or test coordinator and have trouble signing in to the WIDA Secure Portal, please contact the WIDA Client Services Center for assistance.

Invitation to Apply: Teachers and EL Students Who Participate in the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Assessment

A small number of teachers and students are invited to participate in an upcoming WIDA Alternate ACCESS cognitive lab, during which WIDA staff will observe test administrators and students with the most significant cognitive disabilities as they participate in a small number of new alternate ACCESS test questions. The WIDA Advancing ALTELLA project is responsible for updating the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, including creation of a new kindergarten Alternate ACCESS and creating an Alternate ACCESS screener. The ALTELLA staff is conducting cognitive labs throughout the WIDA Consortium during February and April 2022.

We invite you and your students to participate in an Advancing ALTELLA cognitive lab in April. WIDA is seeking a small number of English learners in grades K–12 with significant cognitive disabilities, along with their teachers who are familiar with the participating students and are qualified to administer the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs.

Time commitment

Depending on the number of students, plan to spend at least a half day in April participating in cognitive lab activities at your school.

If your school is selected to participate, you can expect to:

  • discuss the cognitive lab with ALTELLA staff (approximately 15–30 minutes total).
  • administer a small number of paper-based Alternate ACCESS test items to one student at a time (approximately 30 minutes per student).
  • participate in a follow-up interview with Advancing ALTELLA staff (approximately 30 minutes total).
  • complete an Individual Characteristics Questionnaire (ICQ) for each participating student after the cognitive lab is completed (approximately 15 minutes per student).

The Advancing ALTELLA team will provide all necessary materials for the cognitive lab. Advancing ALTELLA team members will arrive at your site fully vaccinated and wearing personal protective equipment.

How to apply to participate

If you are interested in participating in the Advancing ALTELLA cognitive lab, please complete this participation survey. The ALTELLA team will contact you to let you know whether you have been selected to participate in the cognitive labs.

If you are available and interested in participating, the participation survey must be completed no later than February 18.

If you have questions about the cognitive labs, please email Laurene Christensen (WIDA) at .

Thank you for your attention to this information.

Last Updated: February 8, 2022

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
135 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA 02149

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


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.