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Annual English Language Proficiency Test

An overview of the Annual English Language Proficiency Test – ACCESS for ELLs

Beginning in January, schools begin administering the annual English language proficiency test to all identified English Language Learners (ELL). The annual ACCESS test yields a report that many parents receive but may not always understand the logistics of the report. The following information provides a description of the test and its score results.

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Score results

Scores on the ACCESS test describe student performance in terms of the six levels of English language proficiency. The proficiency levels help interpret test results for each domain. Each number indicates the following level in English:

  • 1- Entering
  • 2–Emerging
  • 3-Developing
  • 4-Extending
  • 5-Connecting
  • 6-Reaching

Each grade is earned separately. The level 1 score is the lowest a student can get. While 6 is the highest score a student can get.

The scores of 1 to 6 report a student’s ability in each section or overall performance of the test.

For example, when a student scores a 4 in listening and 2 in writing it means that the student is at level 4 -extending in listening/understanding and 2-emerging in writing/writing.

Additionally, the ACCESS assessment reports a score in oral language, literature, comprehension, and an overall score. Individual results are combined to form composite results that show other levels of English.

Scores Usage

Inform Instruction

The annual ACCESS test generates a proficiency score to inform teachers of each student’s performance in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The student report provides teachers a description of what the student can do in listening, speaking, and writing. Classroom teachers can use student test results to plan instruction during content-area instruction.

ELL teachers use test results to determine a strong or needy language area (s) for the student (s). Specifically, scores allow teachers to narrow the focus on instruction to take students to the next language proficiency level.

Student Placement

Student placement is driven by test results. Scores help schools determine what level of language development services a student may need. In elementary school, this may entail deciding whether a student needs to continue language instruction. The type of language instruction service a student receives depends on the English language instructional model that the school uses to teach English language learners.

In middle school, attend an English language development class with other ELLs. The English language development (ELD) class focuses on teaching English to improve a student’s ability to understand, speak, read, and write using academic language. ELD classes provide students a comfortable environment to use and learn a language with the goal of English language mastery.

Identified ELLs in dual language classrooms take the annual test to measure English language development progress. Teachers in immersion classrooms may also use the test results to make instructional decisions.

Determine ELL Status

The ACCESS for ELLs test provides schools an overall (composite) score to determine whether or not a student is an English language learner. The overall or composite score is a combination of all four domain scores for the student. States have designated score target that determines when a student can transition out of ELL services.

Most states have designated a score of 4.5 or above to determine when a student qualifies for services. Such a score not only determines exit criteria, but it is also an indicator that the student may be performing at a higher level once they reach that score. Contact your child’s school or visit the state education website to find out your state exit criteria.

Parent Notifications

States require all schools to inform parents of their child’s English language development progress each school year. A student report must be sent to parents each school year. The report shows a student’s language proficiency level for all four domains. It also includes score results for comprehension, literacy, and overall score.

The results of a student report are always available in your child’s school. Encourage your child to try their best during the ACCESS test. The results of the test are a valuable resource for schools. The test provides valuable information about a student’s English language proficiency abilities.

Encourage your child to do his best during the annual English language proficiency test. Test results are a valuable resource for schools that provide excellent information about a student’s English language proficiency skills.

Adopted from the developers of the ACCESS for ELLs Test

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3 thoughts on “Annual English Language Proficiency Test”

  1. Hello. I am curious. What modes of help are being offered to Black children whose home language equates to a strong Black language — using all of the grammar distinctions known to be used by Black communicators that are different from English?

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