Member of the WIDA Consortium since 2012.


Massachusetts uses the Kindergarten W-APT, WIDA Screener for Kindergarten, and WIDA Screener for Grades 1-12 to identify English learners (ELs). Beginning January 1, 2023, only the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten and WIDA Screener for Grades 1-12 will be used to identify ELs. ACCESS for ELLs or Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, as appropriate, is given to all ELs during the annual testing window, which extends from early January through early February.

Testing Dates

12/1/22-2/10/23 WIDA AMS test setup available for test sessions
1/3/23 Schools receive test materials
1/3/23-2/3/23 Additional test materials ordering window in AMS
1/5/23-2/10/23 Test Window
2/14/23 Deadline for shipping completed test materials to DRC
3/27/23-3/31/23 Pre-reporting data validation in WIDA AMS
5/12/23 Districts receive reports – Online
5/17/23 Districts receive reports - Printed
5/17/23-5/25/23 Post-reporting data validation in WIDA AMS
6/9/23 Updated data posted in AMS


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

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).

Test Preparation and Training

Administering the Kindergarten W-APT

  • To be certified to administer K W-APT, Test Administrators should review the K W-APT Test Administration Manual and Scored Student Writing Samples.
  • To access the K W-APT test materials and training, contact your district EL director.
  • The Kindergarten W-APT will no longer be available for identifying ELs as of January 1, 2023.

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 available for use as of March 1, 2022. 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 WIDA Screener for Kindergarten – Cut Scores for English Proficiency for information regarding whether a student should be considered an English learner. Districts should note that beginning January 1, 2023, the WIDA Screener for Kindergarten will be the only screener available for use in the identification of students in kindergarten and first-semester Grade 1.

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 accommodation. 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 quizzes and qualified in 2021-2022 need not re-qualify on the quizzes; all others must complete the appropriate training courses (see below) and pass the quizzes for tests they will administer. Recertification will be required every two years. 
    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    Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: 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 Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

  • EL students with significant cognitive disabilities may participate in the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs only if they are also designated for the MCAS-Alt; or if they are reported in grades 1, 2, 9, 11, or 12 and would most likely take the MACS-Alt if it were offered in those grades. The student’s IEP should indicate Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. Please see Participation Guidelines: Which Students Should Take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs? for more information.
  • The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs test is not available for students in kindergarten. Kindergarten EL students who would take the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs if it were available in their grade should be coded SPD in all domains in WIDA AMS.
  • Certification training is required prior to administering the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. Certification includes completing the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: 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. 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

ACCESS for ELLs Reporting Workshop - May 2022

  • This workshop provides District ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinators with information regarding the 2022 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. 

2023 ACCESS for ELLs Test Coordinator Training Workshop - Fall 2022

  • 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..

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 2022-23 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

The Next Generation ESL Toolkit (NEW)

  • 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.

Next Generation ESL Curriculum Resource Guide

This document provides:

  • Information about the project's context, the curriculum design framework, and how to use that framework to develop additional ESL units.
  • Description of a continuous improvement cycle prompting critical questioning and strategic decision-making that can be used to improve instructional design.
  • A collection of collaborative templates, tools, processes, protocols, and other resources used in the development of ESL MCUs (e.g., Collaboration Tool, unit template, unit lesson plan template, language unpacking tools, unit and lesson-level protocols, etc.).
  • Resources for professional learning communities (PLCs) to support collaborative ESL curriculum development.
  • Information about other key topics related to the project, such as text complexity, Universal Design for Learning, guidance related to instruction and assessment of dually identified students (ELs with a disability), critical stance, social justice, and other significant components of effective ESL curriculum.

Next Generation ESL Curriculum Project: Frequently Asked Questions

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.