WIDA/ACCESS Testing Window

February 10, 2014- February 28, 2014

ACCESS Testing - Scheduling Considerations

As you prepare master schedules for ACCESS testing, make sure to keep in mind that the ACCESS is a federally and state mandated assessment. Local schools must adhere closely to the guidelines for administration of such assessments. The administration of the ACCESS must be approached with the same care and diligence as all other state-mandated assessments.

The test may only be administered during the test window of February 10 - February 28. All ELLs who are enrolled during the test window MUST be administered the ACCESS. Participation on the ACCESS is an AYP accountability measure for the district.

Testing Environment

  • Schedule the listening, reading and writing sections of the test in a classroom with ideally, no more than 22 students.
  • Sequencing of test administration is not required in a particular sequence. No single section, however, may be administered over separate days.
  • The classroom must be conducive to testing with only the student/s to be assessed and the examiner.
  • Ensure there will be limited interruptions within the school on the testing day/s. (Make sure to check that the fire drill is not scheduled for that day.)
  • Local school administration should monitor all group administration sessions.
  • Seating arrangements for group testing must ensure that each student has adequate workspace for the test booklet, with sufficient space between students to discourage copying and to permit them to handle the materials comfortably. Seating arrangements for the speaking assessment is outlined in the ACCESS Administrator's Guide.
  • Testing rooms should be well lit, have adequate ventilation, a comfortable temperature, and freedom from interruption. Place a "Testing --Please Be Quiet" sign on the testing room.

Test Examiners

  • All staff administering the ACCESS test must be certified and currently employed in CCSD.
  • All staff administering the speaking portion of the ACCESS or the Kindergarten ACCESS must hold the ESOL certification or ESOL endorsement.
  • All staff administering the ACCESS must have completed the online training from the WIDA website, which includes the successful completion of the online quizzes with 80% mastery. The training and the quizzes are required to be completed annually regardless of whether or not the staff member has completed the training in a previous school year. (Contact Beth Kartheiser to obtain the user name and password for the training.)
  • Examiners must compete the Nondisclosure and Confidentiality forms. The Nondisclosure form is located in the ACCESS Administrator's Guide and the Confidentiality form is in the Test Coordinator's Packet (posted in Blackboard).The local school test administrator must maintain the originals of these forms.

As you schedule testing administration plans, keep in mind the following information:

  • Listening:  25-30 minutes, machine scored
  • Reading: 35-40 minutes, machine scored
  • Writing:  75 minutes (only 30-35 minutes for Tier A for grades 1-2), rater scored
  • Speaking:  15-20 minutes, test examiner scored

Accommodations and ACCESS


Assessment administration accommodations may not be provided unless the student qualifies for special education services and the accommodation is required for the student’s disability and not his/her limited English proficiency.  The student must have an IEP with the type of accommodations indicated. 

Of all of the accommodations approved by the State for use with students with disabilities, the following accommodations contain specific restrictions on the ACCESS:

Presentation Accommodations:

Oral Reading of test questions in English only by reader or assistive technology - allowed on Writing section only

Oral reading of reading passages in English only by reader or assistive technology - allowed on Writing section only

Response Accommodations:

Student marks answers in test booklet - allowed on Listening, Reading, Writing; not allowed on Speaking

Student points to answers - allowed on Listening, Reading, Writing; not allowed on Speaking

Verbal response in English only - allowed on Listening, Reading, Speaking; not allowed on Writing

Click here to download the WIDA Guidance on Special Education Accommodations for the ACCESS

What is ACCESS?


ACCESS for ELLs® stands for Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners. This large-scale test addresses the academic English language proficiency (ELP) standards at the core of the WIDA Consortium's approach to instructing and evaluating the progress of English learners. To alleviate any confusion, the WIDA ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT)™, more aptly known as a screening tool, has a different purpose and format from the ACCESS test. To understand the relationship between the two tests, see Comparing W-APT™ and   ACCESS for ELLs®.

From the WIDA Consortium  This large-scale test first and foremost addresses the English language development standards that form the core of the WIDA Consortium's approach to instructing and testing English language learners. These standards incorporate a set of model performance indicators (PIs) that describe the expectations educators have of ELL students at four different grade level clusters and in five different content areas.
The grade level clusters include PreK-K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. There are five content areas of the standards. The first is called social and instructional language (SI), which incorporates proficiencies needed to deal with the general language of the classroom and the school. The others are English language arts (LA), math (MA), science (SC), and social studies (SS).
For each grade level, then, the standards specify one or more performance indicators for each content area within each of the four language domains: Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.    

The WIDA framework recognizes the continuum of  language development within the four domains with six English language proficiency levels.
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Level 5
Level 6

These levels describe the spectrum of a learner's progression from knowing little to no English to acquiring the English skills necessary to be successful in an English-only mainstream classroom without extra support. This final, exit stage for EL status is designated Level 6 (formerly ELL). Within each combination of grade level, content area, and language domain, there is a PI at each of the five points on the proficiency ladder, and the sequence of these five PIs together describe a logical progression and accumulation of skills on the path to full proficiency.
Drawn from the PIs, the ACCESS for ELLs® incorporates all five standards and English language proficiency levels in sections that correspond to the four domains. The target administration times for each section of the test are:

  1. Listening:  25-30 minutes, machine scored
  2. Reading: 35-40 minutes, machine scored
  3. Writing:  75 minutes (only 30-35 minutes for Tier A for grades 1-2), rater scored
  4. Speaking:  15-20 minutes, test examiner scored

The goal of the ACCESS for ELLs® test is to allow students to demonstrate their level of proficiency through the PIs. However, there are far too many PIs altogether to present to any single test taker. A test with questions assessing each and every PI would be far too long to fit in any reasonable testing session. For any particular child, some of the questions on a comprehensive test might be dismissively easy, making it boring, while others would be exactingly hard, making it frustrating. It is important to avoid both possibilities to achieve a reliable test.

Selecting Tier Levels for ACCESS

ACCESS for ELLs® uses Tiers (A, B, or C) to maximize accuracy and validity of test results. This allows students to avoid responding to questions that are inappropriately difficult or easy.

Give careful consideration to Tier placement. For placement into the appropriate Tier, English learners must meet at least ONE of the criteria listed for the Tier.

Tier A

  • EL who has entered the U.S. this academic year without previous instruction in English
  • EL who recently tested on the W-APT and scored below a 2.0.

Tier B

  • EL who has social language proficiency and some, but not extensive academic language proficiency.
  • EL who has acquired some literacy in English but has not reached grade level literacy.

Tier C

  • EL who has almost reached grade level literacy and academic language proficiency in core content areas.
  • EL who will most likely meet the exit criteria for ESOL support services by the end of the academic year.

ACCESS Tier Levels
Most ELLs at a local school will probably be placed on a Tier B. A student may be tested on the same Tier level for more than one year. WIDA has indicated that many ELLs will test on Tier B for two or more years. A student may have tested on Tier C last year and this year may have to test on a Tier B for reasons such as (1) incorrect tier placement last year or (2) entry into a new grade cluster this year.

 ACCESS - Interpretation of Scores


The ACCESS for ELLs assessment is a secure, large scale test anchored in the WIDA English proficiency standards. In Georgia, the ACCESS is the federally-mandated, annual English proficiency assessment. The ACCESS is divided into five, grade-level clusters: K, 1 - 2, 3 - 5, 6 - 8, 9 - 12 and three tiers: Tier A (beginning), Tier B (intermediate), Tier C (advanced).

The information below has been adapted from the WIDA Consortium's 2013 ACCESS Interpretive Guide.
ACCESS Scores (Grades 1 - 12):

ACCESS for ELLs Scores (Grades 1–12)
An individual student’s results on the ACCESS for ELLs are reported in three ways: raw scores, scale scores, and English language proficiency (ELP) levels. Raw scores are converted to corresponding ACCESS for ELLs scale scores, which are interpreted and reported as language proficiency levels.
Raw scores are reported for Comprehension, Speaking, and Writing. Scale scores and proficiency levels are reported for the four language domains (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing) and four different combinations of language domains. These combinations include: Oral Language (Listening and Speaking), Literacy (Reading and Writing), Comprehension (Listening and Reading), and Overall or Composite Score (a combination of all four language domains).

Note: According to WIDA, raw scores should NEVER be used to track student's progress over time; however, scale scores can be used to monitor progress over time within a language domain, but not across domains.

Proficiency Level Scores
The proficiency level scores are interpretive scores. That is, they are an interpretation of the scalescores. They describe student performance in terms of the six WIDA language proficiency levels (1-Entering, 2-Emerging, 3-Developing, 4-Expanding, 5-Bridging, and 6-Reaching). Proficiency level scores are presented as whole numbers followed by a decimal. The whole number indicates the student’s language proficiency level as based on the WIDA ELD Standards. The decimal indicates the proportion within the proficiency level range that the student’s scale score represents, rounded to the nearest tenth. Proficiency level scores do not represent interval data meaning that the value between intervals are not equally divided. That is, the interval between corresponding scale scores for 2.2 to 3.2, for example, is not necessarily the same as between a 3.2 and a 4.2. 
Composite Scores
Students receive four different composite scores derived from a combination of weighted scale scores from the language domains. Table 1 presents the percent contribution, or the weighting, of language domains for each composite score. Composite scores are compensatory. Compensatory means that a high score in one language domain could inflate the composite score, compensating for a low score in another language domain; conversely, a low score in a language domain could bring down the composite. The language proficiency level designations of the composite scores correspond to the scale scores for Oral
Language, Literacy, Comprehension, and Overall Score and are not derived from a combination or average of proficiency level designations of the individual domains. 

ACCESS Scores (Kindergarten):

Kindergarten ACCESS scores are reported a little differently than the scores for grades 1 - 12. Like the other grade levels, kindergarten ACCESS scale scores are part of the 1-600 range that spans all grade levels; however, unlike the other grade levels, Kindergarteners receive TWO interpretive proficiency level scores: one for instructional purposes and another for accountability purposes.

Kindergarten Instructional Proficiency Level Scores:

The Instructional Proficiency Levels only appear on the Teacher Report. The instructional proficiency levels are based on interpretations of the pre-K - K standards and take into consideration pre-literacy skills. These scores may be used by teachers to plan instruction for their ELLs.

Kindergarten Accountability Scores:

The Accountability scores are also interpretations of the scale scores; however, these scores are on the same scale and have the same meaning as the proficiency level scores for grades 1 - 12. These scores can and should be used for accountability purposes and for measuring student progress over time.

Composite Scores


Parent Brochure - English
Parent Brochure- Spanish
Cover letters to accompany the Parent ACCESS Reports are located on the https://www.wida.us/
 web site in multiple languages. The Vietnamese version is listed here.  Remember to change the year.