Member of the WIDA Consortium since 2012.


Massachusetts uses WIDA Screener for Kindergarten, and WIDA Screener for Grades 1-12 to identify English learners (ELs). ACCESS for ELLs or WIDA Alternate ACCESS, as appropriate, is given to all ELs during the annual testing window, which extends from early January through mid -February.

Testing Dates

11/30/23-3/1/24WIDA AMS Test Setup Available for Registrations
1/3/24Schools Receive Test Materials
1/3/24-2/9/24Additional Test Material Ordering Window in AMS
1/4/24-2/28/24Test Window
3/1/24Deadline for Shipping Completed Test Materials to DRC 
3/25/24-4/1/24Pre-Reporting Data Validation – LEAs in WIDA AMS
4/26/24Reports and Data Files Available - Online 
5/15/24Reports Available in Schools - Printed
5/15/24-5/23/24Post-Reporting Data Validation -- LEAs in WIDA AMS
6/7/24Updated Data Posted in WIDA AMS
9/17/24Alternate ACCESS Reports and Data Files Available - Online
10/7/24Alternate ACCESS Reports Available in Schools - Printed


Requirements and Resources

See below for state-specific information and resources related to EL assessment, including your state’s ACCESS for ELLs Checklists, indicating each step in the ACCESS testing process from beginning to end.

ACCESS for ELLs Online Checklist ACCESS for ELLs Paper ChecklistIdentification and Placement Guidance Massachusetts State-Specific Directions

State Testing Requirements

Guidance on selecting either online or paper-based ACCESS for ELLs testing:

  • Schools are required to administer the ACCESS for ELLs Online for students in grades 1-12. The Kindergarten and Alternate ACCESS tests will be administered on paper. Students with disabilities and first-year ELs will be allowed online handwriting booklets should they require them. Paper-based tests will also be available for students with disabilities as an accommodation, and to first-year ELs who require paper testing.
  • See details in the Principal's Pre-Administration Manual.
  • The Massachusetts State Specific Directions document contains important instructions unique to Massachusetts test sites, in addition to the instructions in the Test Administrator Manual, available in the WIDA Secure Portal Resources section (login required).
  • Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities may be considered for participation in the WIDA Alternate ACCESS. See Participation Guidelines for WIDA Alternate ACCESS 2023-2024 for eligibility guidelines.


Test Preparation and Training

Administering WIDA Screener (Online or Paper) to Grades 1-12

  • Training materials for both versions of WIDA Screener can be accessed through the WIDA Secure Portal. Test administrators must complete the appropriate online training and pass the relevant online quizzes.
  • If a Test Administrator has passed the Speaking quiz for the ACCESS paper-based assessment, the Test Administrator is also certified to administer and score the WIDA Screener Speaking test.

WIDA Screener for Kindergarten

  • The WIDA Screener for Kindergarten is the only screener available for use in the identification of students in kindergarten and first-semester Grade 1. Test administrators must complete the online training and pass the relevant online quizzes prior to administering the screener. Training materials for the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten can be accessed through the WIDA Secure Portal Assessment Training tab. Please see Guidance on English Learner Education Services and Programming for information regarding whether a student should be considered an English learner.

Administering ACCESS for ELLs

  • All students will be expected to participate in the Online test. However, paper tests will always be available as an accommodation if required by a student's individualized education program (IEP) and as needed for first-year ELs. IEP or 504 teams and EL educators must determine whether a student is able to take the Online test (with or without a handwriting booklet) or would require a paper test or handwriting booklet. See the Principal's Pre-Administration Manual for more information.
  • Technology Coordinators must view the technical manuals and complete the Technology Readiness Checklist located in WIDA AMS.
  • Online and Paper Testing: Those who took trainings and passed certification quizzes in 2022-2023 do not need to re-certify on the quizzes; all others must complete the appropriate training courses (see below) and pass the quizzes for tests they will administer. Recertification is required every two years. 
    NOTE: All those administering the WIDA Alternate ACCESS in 2023-2024 are required to take the training and pass the certification quizzes for the WIDA Alternate ACCESS.
    o    Online ACCESS for ELLs: Administration
    o    Paper ACCESS for ELLs: Administration
    o    Speaking for Grades 1-5 (and/or 6-12): Scoring ACCESS Paper and WIDA Screener
    o    Kindergarten ACCESS for ELLs: Administration and Scoring
    o    WIDA Alternate ACCESS: Administration and Scoring
  • Additional information about ACCESS for ELLs testing in Massachusetts is available on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

Administering WIDA Alternate ACCESS

  • EL students with the most significant cognitive disabilities may be eligible to participate in the WIDA Alternate ACCESS if they meet the criteria in the Participation Guidelines for WIDA Alternate ACCESS 2023-2024.  
  • Certification training is required prior to administering the WIDA Alternate ACCESS. Certification includes completing the Alternate ACCESS: Administration and Scoring training course and passing the certification quiz. The training course and quiz are available in the Assessment Training section on the WIDA Secure Portal. Training and certification are required for everyone administering the WIDA Alternate ACCESS in 2023-2024. Recertification is required every two years.

WIDA Secure Portal Accounts

  • All Test Coordinators and Test Administrators must have a WIDA Secure Portal account to access the training modules and test administration documents. To set up an account, see instructions on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.
Manuals, Guides and Workshops

Understanding and Implementing ACCESS Tests – New EL Directors Meeting - August 16, 2023

  • This PowerPoint provides an overview of key information regarding ACCESS testing. Topics include participation requirements, important dates and deadlines within the testing window, and roles and responsibilities of district and school staff. The presentation covers where to find helpful resources as well as Department, WIDA, and DRC contact information.

2024 ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinator Training Workshop - Fall 2023 

  • (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
  • This presentation created by DESE reviews the format of the assessment, training materials, technology requirements and considerations, test administration procedures, and the latest updates for the current year’s administration.

2024 ACCESS for ELLs Data Validation Workshop - March 2024

  • Part 1; Part 2
  • This presentation provides timelines for both pre- and post-reporting data validation as well as information regarding how to access data validation in WIDA AMS. It also provides a review of ACCESS participation requirements, tasks to complete, and where to find resources and support. 

ACCESS for ELLs Reporting Workshop - May 2023

  • This workshop provides District ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators with information regarding the 2023 ACCESS for ELLs test results and where to locate district and school results in WIDA AMS, and the DESE Security Portal DropBox and Edwin. Also discussed is information included in the Title III Reporting Elements and where those files are posted on the DESE web page.

WIDA AMS Supplement – Submit Incomplete Domain

  • This supplement provides step-by-step directions to “force submit” a domain in WIDA AMS. This task is typically done when a student is prevented from testing in a required domain due to a disability. 


Standards and Instructional Support

The WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition, was released in December 2020. Massachusetts will be offering a series of workshops to support districts with implementing the WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition.

Here is an overview and calendar of all DESE-sponsored WIDA professional development opportunities for the 2023-24 school year. For more information or to register, please contact David Parker (

DESE is also recommending a professional learning pathway of course offerings that support districts in the implementation of the WIDA 2020 Standards. The suggested sequence of courses recommends a professional learning pathway that will prepare educators and administrators to 1) unpack the WIDA 2020 Standards, 2) apply the Standards to planning for instruction, and 3) prepare to lead others in your district in doing the same work (Training of Trainers). These courses are offered at no charge to individual educators and teams who collaborate to provide the very best access and opportunities for all their students. Educators can select their entry point and earn PDPs for completing individual sessions and/or complete the full Pathway for a total of 19 PDPs, all of which may count toward licensure renewal requirements.

Massachusetts Next Generation ESL Curriculum Project Resources

High-Quality NGESL Instructional Materials Review Process and ESL Curriculum Review Rubric

The High-Quality ESL Instructional Materials (HQIM-NGESL) review process guides educator teams in a step-by-step process to determine whether a given set of instructional materials can be considered high-quality for ESL instruction.

MA DESE’s Office of Language Acquisition has also developed a series of self-paced online modules that provide an overview of the High-Quality Next Generation ESL Instructional Materials Review Process and Rubric, information about resources that can be used to create high-quality instructional materials for ESL, and key considerations for ESL curriculum design.

The Next Generation ESL Toolkit 

  • The Next Generation ESL Toolkit provides a common entry point for educators to learn about Next Generation ESL (NGESL) instruction in Massachusetts. It includes connections to relevant guidance, tools, and resources educators at all different points in their journey can use to develop a deeper understanding and ability to implement high-quality ESL instruction, across all different program models. The ESL Toolkit was developed as part of the Next Generation ESL Curriculum and Instructional Support, building on a strong foundation of previous initiatives and projects defining the type of learning experiences English learners deserve and supports for educators to bring these to life.

Next Generation ESL Project: Model Curriculum Units (ESL MCUs)

  • The Office of Language Acquisition (OLA) led the field-based "Next Generation ESL Project: Model Curriculum Units" in a key partnership with the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages (MATSOL), along with Northeast Comprehensive Center/WestEd and the support of other organizations such as the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and WIDA. The project included participation of over 30 districts across the state, as well as collaborations and consultations with local and national curriculum experts.

Collaboration Tool (Download the accessible version of the Collaboration Tool)

  • This is a multi-layered, multi-purpose tool designed to help curriculum writers operationalize WIDA Standards in conjunction with the Frameworks. The goal of the Collaboration Tool is to support curricular planning with the intentional, simultaneous development of language and the analytical practices embedded in the Frameworks. It highlights the need for collaboration between language and content educators and helps teachers prioritize and strategically plan around Key Uses of Academic Language in the context of key academic practices (Cheuk, 2013) common across content area Frameworks. The Collaboration Tool and related processes are planning resources that, among other uses, can help educators prepare to create clear, standards-based language learning goals for developing curricula using the ESL unit template.

Interactive Guide to the Collaboration Tool (Download the accessible version of the Interactive Guide to Collaboration Tool)

  • This interactive guide will walk you through how you can use the Collaboration Tool in curriculum development, starting with Focus Language Goals.

Other Useful Resources:


Melanie Manares
English Proficiency Assessment Coordinator
(781) 338-3625

Allison Balter
Special Advisor, Director
Office of Language Acquisition
(781) 338-3511

David Parker
Continuous Improvement Manager,
Office of Language Acquisition
(781) 338-3466

WIDA Client Services Center 
Contact us for questions about training materials or test administration procedures, classroom resources, or for problems with your WIDA Secure Portal account.
(866) 276-7735

Logging In

WIDA Secure Portal 
Use the WIDA Secure Portal to access test training manuals and resources, as well as Online Professional Learning modules.

  • To obtain a new login to access the WIDA Secure Portal, contact your District Test Coordinator.
  • New District Test Coordinators should contact the WIDA Client Services Center to obtain District Test Coordinator permissions.
  • For assistance with your account, contact the WIDA Client Services Center at or call (866) 276-7735.

WIDA Assessment Management System (WIDA AMS) 
WIDA AMS is managed by the ACCESS for ELLs test contractor, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC). You can order ACCESS materials, manage your student and test information, and find technology resources and testing software.

  • To obtain a new login as a Test Administrator or a School Test Coordinator, contact your District Test Coordinator.
  • New District Test Coordinators should contact DRC Customer Service to create an account.
  • For assistance accessing your account, contact DRC Customer Service at or call (855) 787-9615.