Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Field Test: Coming to schools in early 2023
Updated on December 14, 2022
If you administer Alternate ACCESS, this online guide is for you! New in 2023 is the Alternate ACCESS Field Test and when we say “new,” we mean it. This type of field test doesn’t happen very frequently. In fact, we haven’t asked folks to participate in a field test for Alternate ACCESS in more than 10 years. So, we ask you to bear with us this school year to help us create better resources for you and your multilingual learners with significant cognitive disabilities.
Below, we give you general information on the field test, plus we break down what district/school coordinators and test administrators need to know before, during and after the field test.
About the Alternate ACCESS Field Test
What is it? The Alternate ACCESS Field Test is a one-time, paper-based test that you will give in addition to the Alternate ACCESS test that you administer each year. (WIDA’s rationale: two tests = less testing fatigue than one very long test.) The field test is made up of newly developed test items and will help to ensure that those test items measure what they are intended to measure.
Why have a field test? The Advancing ALTELLA team is working hard to redesign Alternate ACCESS, which includes expanding the test to cover kindergarten and creating a brand-new alternate screener. These newly developed test items, which are aligned to the WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition, need to be vetted by you and your students.
Who participates? All students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in grades K–12 who are eligible to take Alternate ACCESS must participate in the field test. If you’re wondering why every student needs to participate, there are two reasons:
- Reason #1… Data. To redesign Alternate ACCESS and create an alternate screener, we need to get enough data on these new test items. Enough data means that we need 25,000 students to participate in the field test, which is how many students take Alternate ACCESS each year.
- Reason #2… It’s the law. All of us in the WIDA Consortium must meet federal statutory and regulatory requirements under Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) for implementing valid and reliable state assessment systems. Under these requirements, the U.S. Department of Education must conduct a peer review of the technical quality of state assessment systems. During this peer review process, states – with the help of WIDA – demonstrate the technical soundness of their assessment system.
Notice that kindergarten students are included in the field test. That’s because we’re redesigning Alternate ACCESS to include kindergarten in an expanded K-2 grade-level cluster. Scroll down to the What to know: Before the field test section for more info on how to identify kindergarten students for the field test.
Where is it? The field test takes place at every testing site in the WIDA Consortium that has students who are eligible to take Alternate ACCESS.
When is it? The field test window opens on Tuesday, February 14, 2023, and closes on Monday, April 17, 2023.
How will my students and I benefit from the field test? Not only will you reap the benefits of the brand-new, redesigned tests mentioned above, but all participating sites also get an advance copy of the WIDA Alternate Can Do Descriptors.
How do I get my questions about the field test answered? First, keep reading. Second, watch the recording of the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Field Test 2022-23 Q&A Webinar, which is housed in the WIDA Secure Portal. Third, contact
- The WIDA Client Services Center (CSC) if you have general questions about the field test
- Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) Customer Service if you have questions about field test materials, e.g., ordering additional materials, returning materials
- Your state education agency if you have questions about your state's involvement in the field test
What to know: Before the field test
For district/school coordinators
- Field test materials start arriving at sites as early as February 7, 2023. You do not need to place an order for this initial field test shipment. All sites that had students who took Alternate ACCESS during the 2021–22 school year will automatically receive materials. This initial field test shipment will arrive at the same location as all other Alternate ACCESS test materials. Materials will either be packaged by school and shipped to a district or packaged by school and shipped to a school. The number of materials you receive in your initial shipment will be based on the number of students who took Alternate ACCESS in the 2021–22 school year (with grade levels adjusted for the 2022-23 school year). (WIDA’s rationale: using 2021–22 data ensured that we had the most robust, accurate information.)
For sites with kindergarten students, WIDA has estimated how many K–2 grade-level cluster booklets you should need in order to account for these new students. (Remember: beginning with the field test, Alternate ACCESS will include an expanded K–2 grade-level cluster.) You may still need to order additional materials. Scroll down to the What to know: During the field test section to learn how.
If your site didn’t have any students taking Alternate ACCESS in 2021–22 but has students who will take Alternate ACCESS in 2022–23, these students should participate in the field test. You’ll need to place an additional materials order for field test materials. Scroll down to the What to know: During the field test section to learn how you can order what you’ll need.
- Look for a yellow DRC box. Inside, you should find field test materials, which you'll recognize from the image of Candoo, our field test dog! Here’s an idea of what comes in each school's box:
- Packing list
- Security checklist
- Welcome handout
- Getting Started Guide
- Test Administrator Manual
- Relevant grade-level cluster student test booklets
- Relevant grade-level cluster student response booklets
- Relevant grade-level cluster test administrator scripts
- District/school labels for student response booklets (You'll need to bubble in student information.)
- Do Not Process labels
- Material return instructions
For more information on field test materials, browse the Alternate ACCESS Field Test - Test Administrator Manual. Find it in the Course Resources section of the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: Administration and Scoring training course in the WIDA Secure Portal.
Know your state's policies on the Alternate ACCESS Field Test. Check your member/state page for guidance around student eligibility, training requirements, setting up the test room and contact information for your state education agency representatives.
Store field test materials in a secure location.
For test administrators
Know which of your students are eligible to take Alternate ACCESS – this includes students who are in kindergarten. (Remember: Beginning with the field test, Alternate ACCESS will include an expanded K–2 grade-level cluster.) To determine if Alternate ACCESS is appropriate for your students, meet with your student’s IEP team. Kindergartners who would likely take Alternate ACCESS in first grade, per their IEP, should participate in the field test. For additional guidance, go to the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs webpage and look for the Alternate ACCESS Participation Criteria Decision Tree.
Pro tip: If you know that a student will take Alternate ACCESS in 2022-23, they should take the field test. If a student exited from EL services last school year, they should not take the field test.
- Make sure you have access to the WIDA Secure Portal. You’ll need to have access to the portal to complete your field test training. If you are a first-time test administrator, find your state in the member/state drop down list in the upper right corner of your screen. Your member/state page has details on how to get a portal account.
- If you haven’t already, complete your Alternate ACCESS Field Test training. Field test training information and related quiz questions are included in the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: Administration and Scoring training course in the WIDA Secure Portal. This added training content should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. The field test training content was added to the training course on September 6, 2022. If you haven’t gone through the training course since then, WIDA recommends that you revisit the training course before you administer the field test.
Pro tip: The training course has more information on the Individual Characteristics Questionnaire (ICQ), including a PDF version that you can download and print and use to consult with IEP team members. You do not need to fill out the section of the ICQ that asks questions about performance on the state’s annual assessment for grades K-2.
What to know: During the field test
For district/school coordinators
- Take inventory of the test materials that came in your field test box. Do you have enough test materials to test all students who are eligible for Alternate ACCESS (this includes students who are in kindergarten)?
- Order more materials. Didn’t get enough materials? First, check your WIDA member/state page for guidance on ordering more field test materials. Depending on your state's guidance, beginning on February 7, 2023, add your information to the Additional Materials Order (AMO) form. Note: the AMO form is a Google form and not in WIDA AMS. You have until April 10, 2023, to order more materials. You may order as many materials as you need, but consolidating your materials requests into as few orders as possible will help with speedier turnarounds. The same person who orders additional materials for Alternate ACCESS should order materials for the field test. Additional materials will be shipped to the same location that received the initial field test materials shipment.
- Deliver field test materials (including the handouts that came in your box of materials) to test administrators. Find digital copies of all handouts that came in your box of field test materials, plus a flyer for families (which is in 17 languages and ready for you to download and print), in the Course Resources section of the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: Administration and Scoring training course in the WIDA Secure Portal.
For test administrators
- Schedule your field test sessions. Make sure students have enough time, space, and supports. A few tidbits about scheduling…
The field test will be similar in length to Alternate ACCESS. As a reminder, each of the four domain tests for Alternate ACCESS (Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing) can take up to 20 minutes to administer, for a total test time of 80 minutes. Keep in mind that depending on the student, test times can be considerably shorter.
While most states' ACCESS test windows open before the Alternate ACCESS Field Test, some states may have overlapping windows. Plan to administer the tests in this order: 1. Alternate ACCESS. 2. Alternate ACCESS Field Test.
- Download, print and provide families with an informative flyer about the field test. The flyer, which is in 17 languages, is in the Course Resources section of the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: Administration and Scoring training course in the WIDA Secure Portal.
- Review, inventory, and prepare your field test materials. If you don’t have enough, tell your school or district coordinator. They can order more field test materials.
Keep in mind that...
The same accommodations that exist for Alternate ACCESS apply to the field test. Find more information on these accommodations in the WIDA Accessibility & Accommodations Manual (AAM), beginning on p. 8. Note: There is not a braille form of the field test.
The AAM has guidance on testing students who are deaf or hard of hearing, who are blind or visually impaired and/or who are nonverbal or nonspeaking. Remember that you should always follow your state-specific accessibility and accommodation policies for English language proficiency tests. State guidance may vary from the recommendations in the AAM.
What to know: After the field test
- Sites should work together to return field test materials immediately. Each initial shipment of field test materials and all additional materials orders will contain material return instructions and return labels. Ultimately, sites will follow the same return process that they use for Alternate ACCESS. For more information on returning field test materials, consult the Alternate ACCESS Field Test - Test Administrator Manual. The deadline for shipping completed materials is April 19, 2023. All materials must be shipped by this deadline.
- Keep in mind that while you will record student scores as they take the field test, you will not get score reports from the field test. The field test is made up of newly developed test items and is designed to ensure that those test items measure what they are intended to measure. After the field test, test developers look at how individual test items performed with students before adding them to the redesigned Alternate ACCESS test.