Wyoming Department of Education > For District Leadership > Assessment – State System > ACCESS

Contact Information

EL/Foreign Language Consultant
Antoinette Hallam
(307) 777-5217


ACCESS for ELLs English Language Proficiency Assessments

The ACCESS for ELLs® is required once per year with all students who are English learners. It assesses students’ progress in attaining English proficiency. An alternate ACCESS (ALT-ACCESS) is also available for English learners who also have significant cognitive disabilities.

WIDA Portal

ESSA, and corresponding state statutes mandate that states administer a standards-based English language proficiency test annually to all English Learners (ELs) in kindergarten through grade twelve in public schools. States have to measure English learners’ progress toward English-language proficiency on statewide assessments given to all English learners annually.  In that first year, states may choose to excuse English learners from taking the reading/language arts assessment. Starting in their second year in U.S. schools, all English learners have to participate in all statewide annual assessments. But the number and kinds of tests depend on the grade level of the child.

 Wyoming joined the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) consortium in 2009. The WIDA consortium’s goal is to provide research based assessments, standards and professional development to its member states. The WIDA consortium is dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English learners.

WIDA Screener Tests

KW-APT (Kindergarten WIDA ACCESS Placement Test), WIDA Model or WIDA Screener)

Wyoming uses Kindergarten KW-APT or WIDA MODEL to identify English language learners (ELLs) in Kindergarten and WIDA Screener for Grades 1-12.

ACCESS for ELLs is given to all ELLs during the annual testing window, which typically lasts from mid-January through late February.  Its purposes are the following:

  • To identify students who may or may not be candidates for English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or bilingual services.
  • To determine the academic English language proficiency levels of students new to a school of to the U.S. school system in order to assign appropriate levels and amount of instructional services.
  • To accurately assign students identified as ELs to one of the tiers for ACCESS for ELLs.


Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners

ACCESS for ELLs is a secure large-scale online and paper-based English language proficiency assessment administered to Kindergarten through 12th grade students who have been identified as English language learners (ELLs). It is given annually in WIDA Consortium member states to monitor students’ progress in acquiring academic English. ACCESS for ELLs is aligned with the WIDA English Language Development Standards and assesses each of the four language domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing.

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is an assessment of English language proficiency (ELP) for students in grades 1-12 who are classified as English learners (ELs) and have significant cognitive disabilities that prevent their meaningful participation in the ACCESS 2.0 for ELLs assessment. States must provide accommodations on these tests and list them in students’ IEPs or 504 plans.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; 2004) also mandates that students with disabilities participate in state-wide and district-wide assessment programs, including alternate assessments with appropriate accommodations, when it is documented in their Individualized Education Programs (IEP). For this reason, WIDA created the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs to meet federal accountability requirements and to provide educators with a measure sensitive to English language proficiency growth of ELs with significant cognitive disabilities.

Only 1 percent of students can be given “alternate tests.” These tests are different from the state’s general education tests. Just a small number of kids with cognitive disabilities take these kinds of assessments. These tests aren’t usually for students with learning and attention issues.

In order to receive meaningful information from the test, it is very important that only students who meet all three criteria below participate in the assessment. Other ELs should continue to take the existing ACCESS for ELLs assessment, with appropriate accommodations as necessary. Participation should be decided by the student’s IEP team.

Participation Criteria:

  • The student has been classified as an EL.
  • The student has a significant cognitive disability and is eligible for special education services under IDEA.
  • The student is in a curriculum aligned with Wyoming Content and Performance Standards – Extensions (WyCPSE) and is participating in the state’s alternate accountability assessment, Wy-ALT.

ACCESS for ELLs Technical Report

Please contact Cat Palmer, WDE Assessment Supervisor, at 307-777-8568 or for a copy of the ACCESS for ELLs Technical Report.