Assessing English Language Proficiency

ELD Program Assessment Guidelines


EL Learner Screener and Placement Assessment

The WIDA/WAPT Screener assists with the identification of students that qualify for English Language Development (ELD) programming. Per federal guidelines, students new to the district with a primary or home language other than English must be screened and placed within 30 days from the beginning of the school year. Throughout the remainder of the school year, this screening and placement determination must happen within two weeks of the student's enrollment (10 school days).

Ongoing ELD Progress Monitor: MCSD ELD Formative Assessment System

Through rigorous, targeted, language-based instruction, we expect our EL learners to become proficient in academic English within 6 years of identification and qualification for the ELD Program. Research conducted by the Colorado Department of Education (2015) tells us that it can take a year to move between proficiency levels 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, and 5-6. Movement between proficiency levels 4-5 can take two years as an additional year may be necessary for students to reach a proficiency level 5 in writing.

1 year growth.docx

While ACCESS for ELLs provides yearly English language proficiency data, ELD Specialists use the MCSD Formative Assessment and Reporting System to monitor incremental language development throughout the year.

Leading educational researchers, Fisher and Frey (2007), tell us that “Formative assessments are ongoing assessments, reviews, and observations in a classroom. Teachers use formative assessment to improve instructional methods and provide student feedback throughout the teaching and learning process.”

Annual Measure of Proficiency

The annual test (specific test window) that measures a student’s progress in acquiring academic English is ACCESS for ELLs®. This assessment is administered to all students identified as an English Learner (NEP and LEP) in grades K-12.

◦ ACCESS for ELLs, Kindergarten is paper-based

◦ ACCESS for ELLs, grades 1-12 is computer-based

◦ Alternate ACCESS, grades 1-12 (for students with significant cognitive

disabilities) is paper-based

ACCESS 2.0 for ELs

Purpose and Use of ACCESS for ELLs 2.0

  • Helps students and families understand students’ current level of English language proficiency along the developmental continuum.
  • Serves as one of multiple measures used to determine whether students are prepared to exit English language support programs.
  • Generates information that assists in determining whether ELLs have attained the language proficiency needed to participate meaningfully in content area classrooms without program support.
  • Provides teachers with information they can subsequently use to enhance instruction and learning in programs for their English language learners.
  • Provides districts with information that will help them evaluate the effectiveness of their ESL/bilingual programs.
  • Meets, and exceeds, federal requirements for the monitoring and reporting of ELLs' progress toward English language proficiency.


The tasks on the new summative assessment will continue to assess the language students need to process or produce in various school contexts. Each assessment item and task will target at least one of the five WIDA ELD Standards:

  • Social and Instructional Language
  • Language of Language Arts
  • Language of Mathematics
  • Language of Science
  • Language of Social Studies