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ACCESS for ELLs Accommodations and Supports


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ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is based around universal design principles, and adheres to the APIP/QTI framework for accessibility. This design philosophy means that ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 is more accessible to more students than previous versions of ACCESS for ELLs.

ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Accommodations and Supports

The Accommodations and Supports listed here are a summary of the available tools, and may be subject to change. Consult the official testing materials from WIDA for the authoritative list of Accommodations and Supports. These materials include more detailed limitations and requirements for valid use of these tools and features.

Supports in ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 are divided into three categories:

1. Test Administration Procedures

Test Administration Procedures are available to all ELs at the discretion of the test coordinator. Provided all test security and standardization requirements are met, students may be allowed to:

  • Have test directions read to them, repeated, and clarified
  • Read the test or portions of the test aloud, provided it is not distracting to others
  • Be redirected to tasks if they become disengaged
  • Have flexible administration, whether in small groups or a separate room, with support appropriate to the student in the way of seating, lighting, or other environmental factors which would best allow a student to demonstrate their ability to communicate in English
  • Break the test into manageable chunks, with breaks as frequently as needed

2.  Accessibility Tools

Accessibility tools are available to all ELs, and may either be embedded in the online test or provided by test administrators. Accessibility tools embedded in the online assessment do not need to be specified ahead of time by the test coordinator, nor enabled by the test administrator. Non­embedded accessibility tools must be provided by the test administrator, and may need to be arranged ahead of time. 

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Online ACCESS for ELLs Embedded Accessibility tool
  • Highlighter
  • Line guide
  • Screen magnifier
  • Sticky notes
  • Color contrast
  • Keyboard shortcuts


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Paper or External Accessibility Tools
  • Audio aids including amplification, noise filtering, white noise, etc. 
  • Highlighters
  • Place marker
  • Magnification or special lighting
  • Color overlay
  • Scratch/blank paper
  • Assistive devices for manipulating items


3.  Accommodations

Accommodations are only available to students with approved IEP or 504 plans, and are only allowed if the student requires the accommodation to meaningfully participate in the assessment. Valid accommodations include: 

  • Signing directions
  • Scribing (verbatim) responses
  • Additional control of audio including volume, and repetition
  • Repetition of directions and test items 
  • Large print
  • Braille 
  • Use of external communication device for some domains 
  • Non-­school setting for administration of the assessment
  • Extended time for responses, including multiple­ day administration

Support Documentation

Accommodations and Supports for ACCESS for ELLs available on the WIDA website. These materials will also be included in the test administration materials sent to schools. 

Materials for IEP teams including checklists and decision guides are also available at the link above.

Alternate ACCESS for ELL

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Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is designed for ELs with significant cognitive difficulties who are unable to participate in the general ACCESS for ELLs even with Accommodations and Supports. By definition, these are ELs who receive instruction aligned to the state’s Alternate Achievement Standards. A student is administered either the ACCESS for ELLs or the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, not both. 

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is an assessment of English language proficiency in the four language domains of reading, writing, speaking, and listening for students in grades 1 – 12 that can be administered by either English language learner professionals or special education professionals.  Based on Alternate Model Performance Indicators (AMPIs), the Alternate ACCESS for ELLSTM measures social and instructional language and aligns with the WIDA Alternate English Language Proficiency levels.

IEP 1-­7 ACCESS for ELLs Participation in Statewide Language Assessment, Checklist and Accommodations (worksheet) may be used to help IEP teams determine the appropriate language assessment and accommodations for ELs with significant cognitive disabilities. Testing guidance and score interpretation materials are available.


Alternate ACCESS for ELLs will be shipped with the initial materials shipment for students who have State Assessment Type-Alternate = Y in WISEdata. For students without this indicator populated who need Alternate ACCESS for ELLs, you may order tests during the Additional Materials window.

Choosing the Correct Test

The flowchart below will help you determine which test is most appropriate for a student. 

graphic about ACCESS for ELLs test type decisions


Choosing Appropriate Accommodations

The accommodations that a student received on a content exam may not be appropriate for ACCESS for ELLs, as it is designed to measure different skills and abilities. Please refer to WIDA’s ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 Accommodations Guidelines for detailed guidance in choosing appropriate accommodations.

Request for Domain Exemption

ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs allow a large variety of supports and accommodations to help ELs equitably access the tests. However, in rare cases ELs with certain disabilities may be unable to access one or more domains, even with accommodations. When an EL is precluded from accessing a domain due to a disability, districts may request an exemption from that domain. If the exemption is approved, DPI will generate an Overall Composite Score for the student which accounts for the missing domain score(s).

The decision to request a domain exemption must be made by the student’s IEP/504 team, and be documented on the I-7 ACCESS for ELLs/Alt-ACCESS for ELLs form. Please see the Guide to Special Education Forms for additional information.

To request a domain exemption from DPI, please fill out this form:

DPI will assess the request, and respond within one week. Requests should be made at least one week prior to the administration of the assessment to ensure that appropriate steps are completed in a timely fashion.

Online Test Management

If the Reading or Listening domain is to be waived, the impacted domain will need to be force-closed using the End Incomplete Test function in the WIDA AMS in the Manage Students Section. After both domains are completed, a request to DRC will need to be made by DPI to manually set the Speaking and Writing Tier. If requesting a waiver for either of these domains, please determine whether the student should be given Tier A or Tier B/C.

If the Speaking or Writing domain is to be waived, that domain will need to be force-closed using the End Incomplete Test function in the WIDA AMS. A separate request by DPI will not need to be made to adjust any Tiers.

For questions about this information, contact