ACCESS

Information and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities under IDEA and 504

 

ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) is a secure large-scale English language proficiency assessment given to Kindergarten through 12th graders who have been identified as English language learners (ELLs). The test measures a student’s English proficiency in four language domains: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Wisconsin law requires that the ACCESS be given annually to monitor students' progress in acquiring academic English. All ELL students identified as limited English proficient must participate in assessment whether they are or are not receiving ESL services. An alternate ACCESS is also available for those students who qualify (see alternate-ACCESS link on the Dept. of Ed. Services web site).

 

ELL students who are identified as having a disability under IDEA or 504 may qualify for allowable accommodations. Accommodations to be provided for a student with a disability need to be documented in the student’s IEP or 504 Plan. The need for an accommodation must be based on the child’s disability, not on the child’s English language needs. As annual IEPs/504 plans are written, or as an IEP/504 plan is revised, IEP/504 team members should discuss whether the student should participate in the ACCESS or in the alternate ACCESS and what accommodations, if any, are needed. Accommodations for testing should be accommodations that are a regular part of the student’s instructional program. Any accommodations listed in the IEP/504 Plan must be provided to the student.

 

When identifying accommodations in the IEP in the eIDEA system, if a student is identified on the district database as a limited proficient English Language Learner, a button will appear on the state wide assessment page (tab 1) in the IEP labeled “ACCESS”.  Staff should click on this button. A second screen will open and staff may then identify which test the student will take and what accommodations are appropriate, as needed. If the button does not appear in eIDEA and you feel the student is ELL, please contact the ESL or Special Education Department.

 

Allowable Accommodations as identified by WIDA for Students with Disabilities

 

Test Directions

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Test "directions" refers to all text in the Test Administrator's Script that is provided to explain logistics of the test, including all practice items. Directions include only what is scripted in the Test Administrator's Script. For Speaking and Listening, the directions end just before the test administrator reads "Part A."

Translation of directions into native language

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sign directions to students

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Explanation of directions in English and/or native language

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Repeat directions

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Use directions that have been marked by teacher

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

 

 

Presentation Format

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

"Test" refers to test items (including introductory text and graphic support), but not scripted test directions (defined above).

Translation of test into native language

No

No

No

No

Translation of test into sign language

No

No

No

No

Oral reading of test in English

No

No

Yes

No

Oral reading of test in native language

No

No

No

No

Use of bilingual dictionary

No

No

No

No

Use of highlighters* (yellow only) by student in test booklet text only; must not be used in answer area

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

Use of marker to maintain place

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

Large Print

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Low vision aids or magnification device

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Audio amplification device or noise buffer

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Student reads questions or responses aloud to self

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

Student reads questions or responses aloud and records with tape recorder

No

Yes

No

No

* The use of highlighters may be available to all students in some states. Please contact your state educational agency if you have questions about the use of highlighters.

Setting Format

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Test may be administered...

By school personnel familiar to student

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

By special education personnel

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

By school personnel in non-school setting (e.g., home or hospital)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

In a separate room

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

In a small group

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

With preferential seating

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Individually

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

In study carrel

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

In space with special lighting

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

In space with special acoustics

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

With special furniture for student

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

With equipment or technology that the student uses for other tests and school work (e.g., pencils adapted in size or grip, slant board or wedge)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Timing/Scheduling

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Flexibility with timing of test is permitted for students who require extra time or have limited attention spans as documented on their IEPs.

More breaks as needed by student

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Short-segment testing (refers to administration of very brief sections of the test at a time, such as three or four items related to a common theme)

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Extend testing time within same school day

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Extend testing sessions over multiple days

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

 

Response Format

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Certain devices or practices may be used to facilitate testing for students who have difficulty with bubbling or writing in the correct area of the test booklet.

Braille writers

N/A

N/A

No

N/A

Computer, word processor, or similar assistive device (spell check, grammar check, and dictionary/thesaurus must be turned off)

N/A

N/A

Yes

N/A

Tape recorders for recording student responses

N/A

N/A

No

N/A

Scribes: all student responses must be transcribed verbatim, including spelling, punctuation, and paragraph breaks

Yes

Yes

Yes

N/A

Responses in native language

No

No

No

No

Answer orally, point to answer

Yes

Yes

No

N/A

 

Other Test Administration Considerations for All Students

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Certain practices can reduce testing anxiety for students. For example, test administrators may...

Provide verbal praise or tangible reinforcement to increase motivation

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Administer practice test or examples before the administration date of the assessment

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

 

Other Accommodations Not Recommended by the WIDA Consortium at this Time(See below for more information)

Listening

Reading

Writing

Speaking

Braille edition of assessment

Possible

Possible

Possible

Possible

Signing questions or answers

No

No

No

No

 

 

Special Considerations Regarding the Use of Accommodations

Please remember that ACCESS for ELLs is an English language proficiency test; as such, it is a tool used

to assess the construct of ELLs’ receptive and productive skills in English. Because it focuses on language rather than content area knowledge and skills, some accommodations that might be appropriate for the classroom or content areas tests should not be used with ACCESS for ELLs as they will invalidate the construct. In other words, students would be taking a test that is no longer measuring just their English language proficiency, making any interpretation or inferences from the scores invalid. For example, if the Listening Section of ACCESS for ELLs were presented in American Sign Language (ASL) to a deaf or hard of hearing student, the test would be measuring the student’s proficiency in interpreting ASL, not spoken English. Similarly, if the Reading Test were translated into Braille, the construct (reading

English) would be confounded because ACCESS for ELLs would become a test of a students’ ability to

read Braille.

 

Additional Information about Braille

 

If you are considering the use of Braille, you must first obtain approval from your area Special Education Assistant Director before identifying this as an accommodation in an IEP. Please contact Peg Moran Hussien at 442-2914 or at mmoranhussie@madison.k12.wi.us to apply for approval. Please also read the information below about the use of Braille:

 

Based on a careful consideration of the implications of Brailling ACCESS for ELLs, including experience

creating a Braille version of the assessment in a previous testing cycle, WIDA strongly recommends that

the assessment not be made available in Braille. WIDA believes that to do so would change the nature of

the test, seriously affecting the validity of ACCESS for ELLs scores. One of the most important reasons

for this is the fact that a student’s proficiency in Braille confounds the assessment of English language

proficiency. Furthermore, many of the test items cannot be translated into Braille, as they are currently

written, because this changes the test. However, in the unusual circumstances that an IEP team determines that it is in the best interest of a student to make the test available in Braille, and it can be done locally, the following guidelines should be followed:

  • The student must be Braille proficient so as not to confound English language proficiency with proficiency in Braille;
  • Braille graphics must be included as this is a graphic dependent test;
  • If the Braille graphics are also verbally described by the test administrator, such descriptions should be made in the student's native language so as not to confound with English language listening skills;
  • The student's responses should be transcribed verbatim, including spelling, punctuation, and paragraph breaks, by a school staff member into a regular ACCESS for ELLs® test booklet for scoring; and
  • The writing assessment should be transcribed verbatim into the test booklet by a school staff member.

 

Additional Information about Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Deaf and hard of hearing students, including those for whom American Sign Language (ASL) is their first or primary language, can generally participate in the Reading and Writing sections of the test with few or no accommodations necessary. Lip-reading with spoken responses for those students who possess these abilities may be possible for the Listening and Speaking parts of the test. IEP teams should make such determinations on a case-by-case basis. Translating the listening and speaking prompts into sign language is equivalent to translating into another spoken language, such as Spanish or Arabic, and therefore is prohibited as it changes the construct (i.e., assesses proficiency in a language other than English) and invalidates the test.

 

Accommodations in Unusual Circumstances

In the event that a student has an injury, for example, his/her writing hand is broken, the test

administrator should do the following:

• Transcribe the student’s responses and have the student spell every word (if a student uses a word

multiple times, it is not necessary to have the student spell that word every time).

• Have the student type (if injury allows) his/her responses with spell/grammar check, autoforms, and

template wizards turned off in the word processor program.

• After testing is complete, mark on the back of the student’s test booklet that he/she used a scribe and

put a note on the front of the booklet that the student has a broken wrist/arm or any other injury

that prevented him/her from being able to write.