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2016-2017 ACCESS for English Language Learners

2016-2017 ACCESS for English Language Learners (ELLs)

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is administered, annually, to all English language learners (ELLs or Els) in Georgia. ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is a standards-based, criterion referenced English language proficiency test designed to measure English learners’ social and academic proficiency in English. The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is an assessment of English language proficiency for students in grades 1 through 12 who are classified as English language learners (ELLs) and have significant cognitive disabilities that prevent their meaningful participation in the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessment. Both assessments assess social and instructional English as well as the academic language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains. ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 and the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 meet the federal mandate that requires states to evaluate EL students in grades K through 12 on their progress in learning English.

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 and the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 are used to determine the English language proficiency levels and progress of ELs in the domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 serves five main purposes. These include:

  • determining the English language proficiency level of students;
  • providing districts with information that will help them evaluate the effectiveness of their ESOL programs;
  • providing information that enhances instruction and learning in programs for English language learners;
  • assessing annual English language proficiency gains using a standards-based assessment instrument;
  • providing data for meeting federal and state requirements with respect to student assessment.

Reports from the WIDA Consortium, the scoring of the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 changed. “To meet language demands of college and career readiness standards, we are raising the bar for language proficiency. Students will need to showcase higher language skills in 2016–2017 to achieve the same proficiency level scores (1.0–6.0). This is the result of a process called Standard Setting” (WIDA website).[1] Additional to the standard setting, another change in the test is the increased focus on speaking expectations followed by reading and writing. The listening domain had the least change. Because of these changes, some students’ score may decrease, and fewer students may meet program exit criteria. The WIDA assessment did not apply any changes to the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 2.0.

The ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELL’s series spans five grade level clusters and six proficiency levels. The grade level clusters include Kindergarten, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12.  Results for ACCESS for ELLs are reported in the four domains and proficiency in six levels. The six proficiency levels are Entering (Level 1), Emerging (Level 2), Developing (Level 3), Expanding (Level 4), Bridging (Level 5) and Reaching (Level 6).  There are three distinctive, yet overlapping, tiers (A, B, and C) for each grade level cluster except kindergarten. The kindergarten assessment is administered individually to students, and it covers all proficiency levels.  It is also an adaptive assessment.

ACCESS Composite Score
An individual student’s results on ACCESS for ELLs are reported as scale scores and as English language proficiency level scores for each of the four language domains, Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.

Scale scores and proficiency levels are also reported for four different combinations of language domains. These combinations are known as composite scores, and include the following:

• Oral Language (Listening and Speaking)

• Literacy (Reading and Writing)

• Comprehension (Listening and Reading)

• Overall Composite Score (a combination of all four language domains)

The weighting used to calculate each of the composite scale scores is shown in Table 1. Once composite scale scores have been calculated, they are interpreted as composite proficiency levels. The proficiency level scores in the four language domains (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) and combinations of domains offer a representation of students’ language performance.

Table 1: Distribution of Weighed Domains on the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0

Type of Composite Score

Contribution of Language Domains (By Percent)





Oral Language















ACCESS Performance Summary for CCPS
Results from this spring’s administration are summarized in Table 2 and indicate the percentage of students performing at the various performance levels of English language proficiency. Although the district’s summary of scores provides a snapshot or cross-sectional view of students’ performance across grades, performance levels, domains and years, caution should be utilized when reviewing and considering results of the ACCESS summary information. 

Results of the ACCESS are most appropriately used in conjunction with other factors and are not intended to stand alone when making decisions regarding curricular, instructional, or assessment decisions.  Overall percentages at the district level may give some indication of students that may be considered for exiting; however, these scores should not be used in isolation for decision-making or conclusions regarding student progress across performance levels. The information obtained from the ACCESS is one criterion for entry and exit decisions, determining the extent/type of language service, suggesting placement in classes, or curriculum planning. Currently, ESOL teachers are utilizing the ACCESS student level data along with other student data (e.g., GMAS reading performance, Language Assessment Conference data, etc.) to determine students’ eligible to exit and to make instructional decisions. Alternate ACCESS for ELLs scores are not reported to the public because the sample sizes are too small.

Exiting from ESOL for Grades 1- 12 is Based on the ACCESS for ELLs 
ELs must score 5.0 or above on the Composite Proficiency Level (CPL).  The ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 data needs to be further disaggregated to determine exiting rates for each school and the district. Kindergarten students who exit from ESOL must score at least a 5.0 in every measured domain.

Measuring progress on the ACCESS for ELLs
In order to determine growth, scores from two administrations of the ACCESS must be compared, and movement from one performance band to another need to occur.  However, because of the scale change, using scale scores to monitor growth is not recommended this year.

[1] 2017 ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Score Changes retrieved from