Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What’s new with ACCESS for ELLs this year (2011-2012)?

For many of our states, ACCESS for ELLs testing is just around the corner. In fact,  Auld Lang Syne might still be ringing in your ears when you start testing next month.  For other states, ACCESS testing is already underway.  So I thought it would be a  nice time to bring everyone up to speed on the administration of the ACCESS for ELLs test.  There are three main points and some tips to keep in mind this year.

1.       Speaking Test T2 start:   All speaking test administrators (TAs) for grades 1-12 must review the updated Speaking Module online before administering the Speaking test this year.  The new T2 start procedure affects students taking Tier B and Tier C in Listening, Reading and Writing.   This change allows these students to skip the T1 Speaking tasks that are likely to be too easy for them. Be sure to watch the new T2 start tutorial that is part of the updated training module.   

TIP: If you are a local trainer, use the free materials in the Training Toolkit.  Don’t reinvent the wheel!  You may edit WIDA’s PowerPoint presentations to suit your needs, but do not post them publicly. The presentations cover all aspects of administration, and have been updated this year to introduce the T2 Start procedure. Click here to go to the Download Library.  Look for the ACCESS for ELLs section.  Then click on the title “Training Toolkit.” (Note: you will need to log in with your personal training course login in order to access the training toolkit files.)          

2.      New sound files:  Did you know that the folks at WIDA have heard your requests for more student speaking samples?  Not only did they gather more sound clips, but they made sure to gather and post samples from students at all levels of English language proficiency from grades 1-12.   In all, there are sixty-six new speaking samples online.  Remember, it is recommended that all speaking test administrators review and practice scoring student responses each year.

TIP:  Plan now and schedule some time about one to two weeks before you begin testing to log in to the WIDA website and review the speaking sample files.

3.       Test administrator quiz scores:  If you are a district facilitator you can be given access to the training quiz scores for all of the teachers in your school district.  Remember, it’s important to ensure that everyone in your district has met all state requirements for training, and some states require annual completion of one or all of the training course quizzes. If it is part of your duties to monitor your colleagues’ training, just contact the WIDA Help Desk at help@wida.us or 866-276-7735 to request this electronic access. It’s a lot easier than collecting printouts in a file cabinet!

Please note: some states have this role set up on behalf of all district facilitators.  To access the district quiz results, please login to the training course and click on “My Quizzes”, then “District View”. If you don’t see a “District View” tab on this page, please call the WIDA Help Desk to request that the district facilitator role be added to your account.

Looking for tips on scheduling ACCESS?  Click here.

Happy holidays!
Enjoy your much-deserved time off, celebrate, relax and enjoy your time with family and friends.  

Written by: Tammy King


  1. Can I share the speaking test rubric with my older students or their parents before they take the ACCESS test? I'm thinking it might help the students understand what kind of oral language output we expect at the different levels?

    1. acondon, great question. Yes, you can share the actual speaking rubric with students or parents, but keep in mind that the rubric is not written in student or parent-friendly language. You might find that the grade level cluster CAN DO Descriptors would be a better resource for explaining expectations to students and parents. I could see the benefits of talking to students about their word choice (e.g. general vs specific or technical language). WIDA is planning on providing the CAN DOs in Spanish soon.

  2. Can you help me find the new sound files mentioned in this blog post? I logged into the WIDA site and searched for them, but didn't find them. Thanks!

    1. Maura, Log in to the site. Then click on the purple box "ACCESS for ELLs Training Course and Quizzes." Then click on "Speaking Test" on the green bar. Once you get to that page, you'll see a box on the right that says "Speaking Test Sound Files for Additional Practice." If that doesn't work, call the Help Desk at 866-276-7735. They can help troubleshoot any additional issues.