Center for Language and Early Child Development

English Language Learning

Assessment Resources

What's New? (3/2/16)

  • WIDA is collecting ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test administration experience from districts. Please complete the survey and submit it. It is recommended that districts send this survey toward the end of the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 testing window or soon after the testing was completed. Please contact the WIDA Client Services Center with any questions about the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0: LEA Survey at help@wida.usor 866-276-7735.
  • WIDA is soliciting recommendations for participants in a Standard Setting Study for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0. Participants should have experience teaching or directly supporting the instruction of ELLs in K–12 public schools in the United States or its associated territories. Sixty participants are being sought for each of two phases of WIDA ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 2016 Standard Setting activities.

    Phase 1 will identify exit criterion scores on ACCESS 2.0 and participants should be SEAs, LEAs, or teachers. Phase 2 will determine where to set cut scores between the six proficiency levels described by the WIDA English Language Development (ELD) standards for grades 1–12 and participants should be teachers only. Phase 1 will be held during the week of July 11th, and Phase 2 will be held the week of August 8th. Both meetings will be held in Madison, WI.

    See the memo for more information and details regarding the nominees qualifications. Please send your nominations to Alex Bauer at, or 608-265-0601 by March 4, 2016.
  • ISBE is extending the 2016 ACCESS for ELLs testing window to Friday, March 4, 2016 for both the online and paper formats. The return-ship date for paper materials is now Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Difficulties in implementing the online option and backordered paper materials have made this necessary for a number of districts. No one is required to use the extra time. You may conclude ACCESS testing and return any paper materials prior to these new dates. Please refer to 2016 ACCESS 2.0 Re-adjusted calendar under the 2015-2016 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 tab below.
  • A letter from Dr. Tim Boals in WIDA to Illinois’ school districts acknowledging the challenges that IL educators are experiencing while administrating ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test. WIDA is working collaboratively with DRC to address these issues with the goal to improve the testing experience for all.
  • Paper testing materials for the ACCESS for ELLs assessment will not be shipped to Illinois districts and schools as originally scheduled due to data system complications. You should now expect paper ACCESS materials to arrive by January 19th, 2016. The testing window is being adjusted accordingly.

    The standard testing window for all districts using paper materials is now January 25th to February 26th, 2016. The date by which to have materials picked up for return to the vendor (DRC) is March 4th, 2016. Please, note the following provisions that apply only to the 2016 ACCESS testing cycle.
    • ACCESS testing with paper materials may actually begin earlier than January 25th. If you have materials and are ready, it’s not necessary to wait until January 25th.
    • For online ACCESS testing, there is no schedule delay. It may begin as originally scheduled for your district (as early as January 11th), but it may now continue until February 26th. This is to accommodate districts that are using both the online and paper formats.
    • The window for ordering additional paper materials still begins on January 6th, but now extends to February 19th.
    This schedule adjustment is not expected to delay the availability of preliminary ACCESS results for data corrections, currently scheduled for May 9-27, 2016.

    ISBE apologizes for this late change in the ACCESS testing cycle. If you have questions, feel free to contact Barry Pedersen in the Division of Student Assessment, 866-317-6034, or

    If any school districts currently scheduled to administer ACCESS on paper are interested in switching to the online format, wholly or partially, DRC is more than happy to work with them toward that end. They may be reached at 855-787-9615, or
  • ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Updates(11/3/15)
  • ACCESS Tier Assignment Guidance
  • New "proficiency" definition for identifying English Learners in Illinois Schools as of January 1, 2014 PDF format (6/13)

 Screening for English Language Proficiency & Screeners

 2015-2016 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 (2/16/16) updated

  • Announcement(2/16/16) updated
  • For 2015-16, the regular ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 testing window will be from January 11, 2016, to March 4, 2016.
  • School Year 2015-16 will be the first operational year for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0. It will be administered primarily via computer. A paper version of ACCESS will be available for accommodated administrations and/or where local circumstances make online testing impractical at this time. The following portions of ACCESS will continue to be paper-only:
  • Kindergarten ACCESS
  • Alternate ACCESS
  • ACCESS Writing Test in grades 1-3
  • Important note – The speaking portion of ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 requires that a microphone be provided for each student. The microphone may be either a stand-alone unit or part of a headset.
  • 2016 ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Calendar PDF format (2/16/16) updated
  • ISBE is no longer using paper forms for this process. For districts wanting to choose an alternate testing window for ACCESS 2.0, please check the SIS webinar that explains how to request alternate testing dates. No reason for the request needs to be entered, but if the number of waiver requests is very large, districts may be asked to provide additional information regarding their request.
  • Updated Procedure for ACCESS 2.0 Student Transfer during the Testing (1/16) new
  • 2015-16 Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Participation Guidance
  • There are a number of ACCESS 2.0 accommodations available to English Learners who are IEPs. The following five accommodations need to be arranged prior to testing. Those accommodations for paper should be ordered in WIDA-AMS during the test materials ordering window. The online accommodations can be turned on in WIDA-AMS any time prior to the test administration after ISBE has uploaded the Pre-ID file to DRC. Note that test tickets for the online format should be created after selecting these accommodations in WIDA-AMS.
    Paper Format
    Online Format
    • Large Print
    • Braille
    • Extended Time for Speaking Response (ES)
    • Manual Control of Audio (MC)
    • Repeat Item Audio (RA)
    Other support options are available for ACCESS 2.0. Some require an IEP, others do not. The following links have more information.
  • Beginning Sept. 23, 2015, WIDA will be conducting a series of webinars to help prepare school districts for this year’s ACCESS administration. Click here for announcements and resources about the transition to ACCESS for ELLs 2.0.
  • ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Updates - 2015 Bilingual Program Directors’ Meeting Presentation PDF format (9/15)
  • Data Recognition Corp. (DRC), the new material vendor for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, requested that schools and districts in Illinois that will be participating in the ACCESS 2.0 and ordering materials provide a Site File by Sept. 30, 2015.
    • The Site File identifies contact information for key staff who will facilitate the assessment.
    • ISBE will use the Student Information System (SIS) to collect this information and will transfer the Site File to DRC on Oct. 1, 2015.
    • DRC will create district accounts in its online administration management system called WIDA-AMS.
    • District coordinator(s) reported in the SIS Site File will be notified by email once those accounts are ready to use.
    • Schools and districts are recommended to view the SIS webinar “Planning for School Year 2016” showing the Site File setup and how to submit information.
  • For 2015-16, the ACCESS for ELLs test is available in either electronic or paper format. The window for ordering paper materials is now open. The last day to place orders is Nov. 13, 2015.

    The new ACCESS vendor, DRC, has issued user accounts for its new website,, where materials are ordered and electronic test sessions are set up. For each district that participated in ACCESS or Alternate ACCESS testing during 2014-15, at least one account was issued. The default user is the district superintendent unless alternate contact information was entered into SIS during September (refer to the announcement for ACCESS 2.0 Site File Set Up via SIS above).

    If you need assistance accessing your WIDA-AMS account, you may contact Barry Pedersen at ISBE (866-317-6034, or DRC Customer Support (855-787-9615,
  • The Additional ACCESS test material ordering is available for IL from January 6 to February 5.  District must use their WIDA-AMS account for test materials ordering.  Please use the overage materials that have been sent before ordering additional materials.  For more in-depth instructions on ordering, please refer to the WIDA AMS User Guide Part 1, which is available on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Training Course on the WIDA website ( The Test Administration Manuals also provide an overview of the steps for the ordering and receiving materials process.

    Please do not hesitate to contact DRC Customer Service with any questions at or 1-855-787-9615.
  • For districts that completed the test materials ordering via WIDA AMS by November 13, 2015, the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 test materials will be delivered to districts on or before Tuesday, January 19, 2016. For questions regarding delivery, please call DRC Customer Service at 1-855-787-9615.
  • The WIDA Assessment Management System (WIDA-AMS) Test Setup window for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 will take place beginning Monday, December 7, 2015 through the end of the testing window.  District test coordinators will have the ability to view students in the system as well as to view and modify test sessions.  If districts are testing ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online, they must make sure that students are entered in appropriate test sessions.

    For more in-depth instructions on Test Setup, please refer to the Manage Students and Test Session Creation modules and/or the WIDA AMS User Guide Part 2, which are available on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Training Course on the WIDA website (

    Please do not hesitate to contact DRC Customer Service with any questions at or 1-855-787-9615.
  • What is WIDA-AMS?PDF format
  • WIDA-AMS is a companion website to It is managed by the new ACCESS vendor DRC. You will use it to order paper materials, and manage the online testing process for your district. Once your WIDA-AMS user account has been set up, you will receive an email with a link to WIDA-AMS ( and instructions for signing-in. Someone with a District Coordinator user account in WIDA-AMS can add users and assign permissions to user accounts.

    Training and reference materials for using WIDA-AMS are available on the WIDA website ( Log-in and click on “My Account and Secure Portal” at the top right. Select the training course for “Online Grades 1-12” to open the “Online Test Administrator Checklist”. As part of the checklist, you will be able to review the WIDA-AMS User Guide Part 1and Part 2, ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Online Test Administration Manual, and the following WIDA-AMS training modules:
  • WIDA User Account WIDA Assessment Management System (AMS) Account
    Required to access for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 training and other resources related to test administration.

    Must log in with your personal WIDA user account at
    Required to order tests and manage test administration.

    Note: This is a different user name and password than the personal WIDA user account log-in.
    Questions or Help:
    For account set up or questions about training, contact district test coordinator or WIDA client services center (866-276-7735,
    Questions or Help:
    Contact Barry Pedersen at ISBE (866-317-6034,
    DRC (855-787-9615,
  • ACCESS for ELLs Re-training requirements for test administrators  who previously certified
    ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 paper
    (Grade 1-12)
    Re-training is not required for listening, reading and writing, but need to complete the training and quiz for Speaking.
    ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online
    (Grade 1-12)
    All administrators are required to complete trainings for four domains.  There is no quiz for the online test training.

    Kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs Re-training is not required.
    Alternate ACCESS (Grade 1-12) Re-training is not required.
    • Anyone training to administer test for the first time must complete all required trainings.
    • More information about trainings can be found from “How do I get trained to administer the ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT Screener, and WIDA MODEL?” under ACCESS for ELLs FAQs at
    • The District Coordinator/Test Administrator checklists below cover most of the important training materials.
    Online Test Administrator/Coordinator Checklist at
    Paper Test Administrator/Coordinator Checklist at
  • W-APT Training for EL Screening – a new WIDA training module
    There is a new training module in webinar format at for those who are interested in being trained to administer the W-APT for EL screening. The training for the annual ACCESS for ELLS assessment formerly was considered to be sufficient for the W-APT as well. That is no longer the case.
    • Now that the ACCESS 2.0 listening and speaking domains will be administered from an audio recording, a separate training module created specifically for the W-APT is more appropriate.
    • Those who have already passed the ACCESS for ELLs training do not need to retrain to administer the W-APT.
    • Anyone training for the first time to administer the W-APT should use the new module, which covers all four domains.
    • The new W-APT training module does not conclude with a quiz or award a certificate of completion. Also, completion of the new W-APT module is not tracked or recorded by either ISBE or WIDA.
    • Note that completing the new W-APT module does not qualify someone to administer ACCESS 2.0 for the annual state assessment. Training modules for ACCESS 2.0, both on paper and online, will be released soon.
    • Training to screen at the kindergarten level remains the same as in the past. If you have questions, contact ISBE at (866) 317-6034.
  • ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Overview
  • FAQs
  • Technology
  • Implementation Resources

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 ACCESS for ELLs FAQs (2/1/16) updated

School districts must annually assess the English language proficiency, including aural comprehension (listening), speaking, reading, and writing skills, of ALL children of limited English-speaking ability in kindergarten and any of grades 1 through 12  (Section 14C-3 of the School Code) using the English language proficiency assessment prescribed by the State Superintendent of Education.
  1. Why is an annual assessment of English Language Proficiency required?

    An annual English Language Proficiency test is required under No Child Left Behind legislation passed in 2001.  NCLB indicates that all K-12 English language learners must be assessed annually for English proficiency growth (Title III) and academic progress (Title I). School districts receiving Title III grant resources will be held accountable under the Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) provision of NCLB.  In addition,  the Illinois Administrative Code, Part 228, Section 228.15(e) and 228.25(c) outlines detailed information regarding the English language proficiency required in Illinois.

  2. What is ACCESS for ELLs?

    ACCESS for ELLs is a standards-based, criterion referenced English language proficiency test designed to measure English language learners' social and academic proficiency in English. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains. The secure full-scale ACCESS for ELLs assessment will be distributed at no cost to public schools.

  3. What is the difference between ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT screener and MODEL?

    The W-APT and MODEL are modeled after the ACCESS for ELLs®, but their purposes differ in important ways.  The W-APT and MODEL are screening instruments designed to assess English language proficiency primarily to determine eligibility for and placement within an ELL program.  The ACCESS for ELLs is an annual assessment designed to assess student progress in achieving English language proficiency.  For more information on how these tests differ visit:

  4. Who needs to take ACCESS for ELLs?

    All public school districts are required to assess annually all identified English Language Learners (ELLs)/Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in grades K-12 using the ACCESS for ELLs assessment until the students test as English language proficient.  This includes all identified students whose parents have refused language support services.  All LEP students must be tested until they achieve the state prescribed minimum score to be considered English language proficient.

  5. What proficiency level score does a student have to obtain to be considered English language proficient?

    As of January 1, 2014, students who obtain an overall composite proficiency level of 5.0 as well as a reading proficiency level of 4.2 and a writing proficiency level of 4.2 on the annually administered state approved English language proficiency test, ACCESS for ELLs, are to be considered English language proficient.

    Districts with additional questions regarding the determination of English language proficiency are encouraged to call the Division of English Language Learning at 312-814-3850.

  6. Who can administer the ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT Screener, and WIDA MODEL assessment?(12/15)

  7. How do I get trained to administer the ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT Screener, and WIDA MODEL? (10/15)

    Each school district in WIDA’s user account system has a District Test Coordinator (DTC). The DTC’s roles include creating new WIDA training accounts for district staff and monitoring that district staff have completed WIDA training modules. If you need assistance with a WIDA account, contact WIDA Client Services, 866-276-7735,

  8. Training for W-APT:
    Educators who desire training for the W-APT should thoroughly review the W-APT webinar at Logging into a user account is required to access this webinar. There is no quiz associated with it, and its completion is not recorded anywhere. Anyone who trained to administer ACCESS for ELLs prior to 2015-16, does not need to re-train to administer the W-APT. Note that training for the W-APT does not qualify someone to administer ACCESS for ELLs 2.0.

  9. Training for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online:
    The ACCESS 2.0 in online format is new for 2015-16. Anyone who desires to administer ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online must complete the four training modules. They are less than 10 minutes each. They do not have a quiz to pass. Certificate is awarded upon completion of each module.

  10. Training for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 in Paper:
    It is quite similar to the ACCESS for ELLs administered in 2014-15 for the domains of Listening, Reading, and Writing. Re-training for those domains is not required. Anyone training for the first time to administer these domains should use the new ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 training modules for the paper format. These modules do not have an associated quiz. A certificate is awarded upon completion of each module and its completion is recorded at However, the Speaking domain in the paper format is significantly different for 2015-16. Anyone who intends to administer the ACCESS 2.0 Speaking test will need to complete the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 speaking module to be released in October 2015. The average time to complete the training is 90 minutes, but could be a long as 2 hours, depending upon the number of grade clusters. This speaking training module requires passing a quiz for completion, and a certificate of completion will be issued upon passing. Completion of the Speaking module will be recorded at
  11. *Note that completion of ACCESS training modules is no longer tracked in ELIS or any other ISBE data system.

  1. Are private schools required to give ACCESS for ELLs? (10/15)

    The Local Educational Agency (LEA) is required to consult with private schools regarding Title III, Part A specifically to determine how their ELL/LEP students will be identified and served. The LEA is responsible for assessing the English language proficiency of private school students and may be able to use Title III Part A funds to pay for initial LEP assessments for these students. (Please note: funds cannot supplant other federal, state and/or local funds.)

    Private schools are NOT required to use ACCESS for ELLs as recipients of Federal Title III program services. However, private schools seeking Title III program services, through their Local Educational Agency (LEA), must demonstrate that the English language proficiency of all students they report to their LEAs is assessed annually and that each student is limited English proficient. Private schools can identify students in need of EL services by using a WIDA ACCESS™ Placement Test (for grades 1-12) available free of charge at the WIDA website. Kindergarten students must be screened using the WIDA MODEL for Kindergarten, which is purchased from WIDA. Private school staff administering the screener must be trained to administer and score the W-APT Screener and/or WIDA MODEL.

  2. Updated Procedure for ACCESS 2.0 Student Transfer during the Testing testing window(1/16) updated

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PARCC Assessment Resources for ELLs 

 ACCESS for ELLs Assessment Archive

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