Curriculum, Instruction, & Assessment » ACCESS


From the Illinois State Board of Education


School districts must annually assess the English language proficiency, including aural comprehension (listening), speaking, reading, and writing skills, of ALL children of limited English-speaking ability in kindergarten and any of grades 1 through 12  (Section 14C-3 of the School Code) using the English language proficiency assessment prescribed by the State Superintendent of Education.

  1. Why is an annual assessment of English Language Proficiency required?

    An annual English Language Proficiency test is required under No Child Left Behind legislation passed in 2001. NCLB indicates that all K-12 English Language Learners must be assessed annually for English proficiency growth (Title III)and academic progress (Title I). School districts receiving Title III grant resources will be held accountable under the Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives (AMAOs) provision of NCLB. In addition, the Illinois Administrative Code,Part 228PDF Document, Section 228.15(e) and 228.25(c) outlines detailed information regarding the English language proficiency required in Illinois.

  2. What is ACCESS for ELLs?

    ACCESS for ELLs is a standards-based, criterion referenced English language proficiency test designed to measure English language learners' social and academic proficiency in English. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies within the school context across the four language domains. The secure full-scale ACCESS for ELLs is an annual assessment will be distributed at no cost to public schools.

  3. What is the difference between ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT screener and MODEL?

    The W-APT and MODEL are modeled after the ACCESS for ELLs, but their purposes differ in important ways. The W-APT and MODEL are screening instruments designed to assess English language proficiency primarily to determine eligibility to assess student progress in achieving English language proficiency. For more information on how these tests differ visit:

  4. Who needs to take ACCESS for ELLs?

    All public school districts are required to assess annually all identified English Language Learners (ELLs)/Limited English Proficient (LEP) students in grades K-12 using the ACCESS for ELLs assessment until the students test as English language proficient. This includes all identified students whose parents have refused language support services. All LEP students must be tested until they achieve the state prescribed minimum score to be considered English language proficient.

  5. What proficiency level score does a student have to obtain to be considered English language proficient?

    As of January 1, 2014, students who obtain an overall composite proficiency level of 5.0 as well as a reading proficiency level of 4.2 and a writing proficiency level of 4.2 on the annually administered state approved English language proficiency test, ACCESS for ELLs, are to be considered English language proficient.

    Districts with additional questions regarding​ the determination of English language proficiency are encouraged to call the Division of English Language Learning at 312-814-3850.

  6. Who can administer the ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT Screener, and WIDA MODEL assessment?
  7. How do I get trained to administer the ACCESS for ELLs, W-APT Screener, and WIDA MODEL?

    Each school district in WIDA’s user account system has a District Test Coordinator (DTC). The DTC’s roles include creating new WIDA training accounts for district staff and monitoring that district staff have completed WIDA training modules. If you need assistance with a WIDA account, contact WIDA Client Services, 866-276-7735,

    • Training for W-APT:

      Educators who desire training for the W-APT should thoroughly review the W-APT webinar at Logging into a user account is required to access this webinar. There is no quiz associated with it, and its completion is not recorded anywhere. Anyone who trained to administer ACCESS for ELLs prior to 2015-16, does not need to re-train to administer the W-APT. Note that training for the W-APT does not qualify someone to administer ACCESS for ELLs 2.0.

    • Training for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Online:

      The ACCESS 2.0 in online format is new for 2015-16. Anyone who desires to administer ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 online must complete the four training modules. They are less than 10 minutes each. They do not have a quiz to pass. Certificate is awarded upon completion of each module.

    • Training for ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 in Paper:

      It is quite similar to the ACCESS for ELLs administered in 2014-15 for the domains of Listening, Reading, and Writing. Re-training for those domains is not required. Anyone training for the first time to administer these domains should use the new ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 training modules for the paper format. These modules do not have an associated quiz. A certificate is awarded upon completion of each module and its completion is recorded at However, the Speaking domain in the paper format is significantly different for 2015-16. Anyone who intends to administer the ACCESS 2.0 Speaking test will need to complete the ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 speaking module to be released in October 2015. The average time to complete the training is 90 minutes, but could be a long as 2 hours, depending upon the number of grade clusters. This speaking training module requires passing a quiz for completion, and a certificate of completion will be issued upon passing. Completion of the Speaking module will be recorded at

  8. Are private schools required to give ACCESS for ELLs?

    The Local Educational Agency (LEA) is required to consult with private schools regarding Title III, Part A specifically to determine how their ELL/LEP students will be identified and served. The LEA is responsible for assessing the English language proficiency of private school students and may be able to use Title III Part A funds to pay for initial LEP assessments for these students. (Please note: funds cannot supplant other federal, state and/or local funds.)

    Private schools are NOT required to use ACCESS for ELLs as recipients of Federal Title III program services. However, private schools seeking Title III program services, through their Local Educational Agency (LEA), must demonstrate that the English language proficiency of all students they report to their LEAs is assessed annually and that each student is limited English proficient. Private schools can identify students in need of EL services by using a WIDA ACCESS™ Placement Test (for grades 1-12) available free of charge at the WIDA website. Kindergarten students must be screened using the WIDA MODEL for Kindergarten, which is purchased from WIDA. Private school staff administering the screener must be trained to administer and score the W-APT Screener and/or WIDA MODEL.​​

  9. Updated Procedure for ACCESS 2.0 Student Transfer during the Testing windowPDF Document