Friday, January 27, 2012

Tips for Scheduling the ACCESS

Preparing to administer the ACCESS for ELLs can be a time-consuming process for test administrators and district level test coordinators alike.  Recently I had the chance to interview Rosemarie Meyer, Assistant Superintendent for Bilingual/ESL Programs in Community Consolidated School District 21 in Wheeling, Illinois.  Just over 37% of CCSD 21 students are English language learners.  She shared some tips that have helped
her maintain her sanity and increase inter-rater reliability among her test administrators.

TIP #1: All hands on deck! Review your state’s requirements regarding who can and cannot be a test administrator for the ACCESS test.  Then train everyone that you can to give the ACCESS. Illinois allows any properly trained certified teacher to give the ACCESS.  In CCSD #21, a team of experienced ACCESS test administrators trains their colleagues, including district administrators, building principals, technology teachers, speech language pathologists and general education teachers.  The goal is to have students tested by someone they already know while making sure that the test administrator does not let what they already know about the student influence the score that the student receives.

TIP #2: Provide face-to-face training in addition to the online training through the WIDA website.  In Rosemarie’s district, they have created a multi-phase training process for test administrators (TAs).  It looks like this:

District-required Training in CCSD#21
New Test Administrators
Veteran Test Administrators
3 months before ACCESS
Two and a half hours of face-to-face training conducted by central office staff members from the ESL/bilingual department.
Must attend
2 months before ACCESS
Additional two and a half hours of face-to-face training conducted by central office staff members from the ESL/bilingual department. 
By this time, new TAs must have logged onto WIDA website and also completed the online training modules.
Must attend
1 month before ACCESS
Two hour training for all TAs on the same day district-wide.  This includes a review of general test administration procedures through a game format (e.g. Jeopardy, etc).  It also includes a detailed review of speaking procedures and additional practice with scoring student samples.  It is scheduled in several locations simultaneously and is part of the regular district Professional Development calendar.  This training is created by the Bilingual/ESL Instructional Specialists who train colleagues to present this PD across the district.
2 weeks before ACCESS
Log on to the WIDA website and review the speaking section.
ACCESS testing
Buddy system for the first few speaking tests:  New TA observes a veteran give the test, then veteran observes the new TA giving the test.

When testing time comes, the district makes arrangements for “an onslaught of substitute teachers.”  These substitute teachers cover the kindergarten rooms, while the kindergarten teachers test their students.  The same is true for students with IEPs.  As a general rule of thumb, Rosemarie plans for one substitute teacher for one day per classroom in grades 1-8 in order to complete the speaking tests, and one substitute for three days per classroom for the kindergarten tests.  

Rosemarie's district has successfully used this multi-phase training plan for several years.  She has noticed three main benefits of this plan.  First, CCSD#21 has high levels of inter-rater reliability among their TAs.  Also more people in the district understand and are more interested in the ACCESS for ELLs scores because of their involvement with the administration of the test.  Finally, testing is completed in a timely fashion and the focus of the schools returns to teaching and learning!

Thank you, Rosemarie, for sharing your advice with the Consortium!

Written by: Tammy King

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