Assessments for English Language Learners (ELLs)

Click on a main topic to go to that section:


Background

Title III of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was enacted to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) students, including immigrant children and youth, develop English proficiency and meet the same academic content and academic achievement standards that other children are expected to meet. The following assessments are designed to meet the requirements of the NCLB accountability goals, Wisconsin statutes, and to provide students, parents, teachers, and schools with information about how students are progressing in relation to both the Wisconsin Academic Standards and World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) English Language Proficiency Standards.

There are two types of assessments in which ELLs participate: English language proficiency and content knowledge. To assess English language proficiency, students participate in the WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test (W-APT)™, Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs®) or, beginning in Fall 2012, the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs™. The statewide system for assessing content knowledge includes the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE) and the Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD).


English Language Proficiency Assessments

W-APT™
The W-APT™ measures the English language proficiency of students who have recently arrived in the U.S. or in a particular district. It can help to determine whether or not a child is in need of English language instructional services, and if so, at what level.

ACCESS for ELLs®
ACCESS for ELLs® is a large-scale test that first and foremost addresses the English language development standards that form the core of Wisconsin’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 five different grade level clusters and in five different content areas.

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs™
Licensed professionals administering the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs™ must complete this online training.


Content Knowledge Assessments

ESEA requires that all students participate in statewide assessment to be used for accountability. Federal regulations provide some flexibility related to the assessment and accountability for recently arrived ELL students only (See 34 CFR § 200.6 (b) (4)).

Districts will need to first determine if the student has recently arrived in the United States before making assessment and accountability decisions. Recently arrived refers to a student that has attended a U.S. school for less than 12 months.

A recently arrived ELL may be exempt from one required administration of the state’s reading assessment. Recently arrived students must participate in all other content areas, with or without accommodations.

Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE)

The WKCE is administered to provide information about student achievement and allow school district staff to use test results to improve educational programs. It is administered for students in grades 3-8 and 10 for reading and mathematics. Additionally in grades 4, 8, and 10 science, language arts, writing, and social students are also administered.

WKCE Translation Accommodation The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will provide translation accommodations for the annual WKCE administration. Bilingual word lists, directions read by the test administrator, and released practice items will all be translated in Spanish and Hmong. In addition, the translated written scripts of the test items in the mathematics, science, and social studies tests will be provided in Spanish.

As in previous years, use of the translation accommodation is optional – the school or district should decide whether a student would benefit from translation support. If translation support is needed for a Spanish-speaking ELL student, the DPI written translations should be used. For all other language groups, including Hmong, districts have the option to provide translation accommodations using qualified translators. DPI recommends that educators also consult the Assessment Accommodations Matrix in order to create the most appropriate testing situation for their students.

Districts who serve students who speak languages other than Spanish may use qualified translators to provide oral translation support to students.

Wisconsin Alternate Assessment for Students with Disabilities (WAA-SwD)

The WAA-SwD is administered to any student with significant cognitive disabilities when an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team determines that a student is unable to participate in the WCKE, even with accommodations. Like the WKCE, it is also administered to provide information about student achievement and allow school district staff to use test results to improve educational programs. It is administered for students in grades 3-8 and 10 for reading and mathematics. Additionally in grades 4, 8, and 10 science, language arts, writing, and social students are also administered. For ELLs who are also students with disabilities, districts may provide translation accommodations.


Growth Excel Analysis Tool for English Learners

The Growth Excel Analysis Tool (GREAT) for English learners is an Excel spreadsheet that allows an educator to plot one year of growth for an individual student on the ACCESS for ELLs®, and to compare that growth to other English learners in either the State of Wisconsin or throughout the WIDA consortium. Comparing the growth of an individual student to the growth of other students provides normative information that can help with questions about whether a student or group of students has made “normal” or “average” progress in the past year.

The data used in the spreadsheet for the growth norms is from the 2010-11 to 2011-12 school year for both the State of Wisconsin and for all WIDA Consortium states. As new data become available, the spreadsheet will be updated.

GREAT is intended as a guide for educators and families, and as with all academic measures should be combined with other information about students, both in the year in question and over time, to create a fuller picture of student progress.

A PowerPoint introduction to GREAT is available with detailed instructions on using the spreadsheet. For more information about GREAT or about the ACCESS for ELLs® contact Audrey Lesondak in the Office of Student Assessment at (608) 267-5153.

ACCESS for ELLs Growth Percentiles


Additional Resources:

Articles on the Use of State Test Results: A Series for Policy-Makers and the General Public. Using Disaggregated Data to Compare State Test Performance of Districts with Dissimilar LEP Populations. January 2001.