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core content areas (language arts, math, science, social studies, and the classroom setting); and (2) consensus by member states on the components of the ELP standards. As new states have joined the consortium, teams of researchers have continued the process by conducting alignment studies between the WIDA standards and a state’s content standards.
ACCESS reports information for five grade bands: K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. For each grade band except kindergarten, three difficulty levels of the test are available. The difficulty levels are intended to tailor the test to students’ approximate proficiency range.
ACCESS consists of both multiple-choice (the listening and reading tests) and constructed-response items (the writing and speaking tests). The speaking test is adaptive and administered one-on-one; the other tests are typically administered in a group setting. ACCESS test items are embedded in the context of a content-based theme, called a folder. A folder typically consists of a shared theme graphic followed by three or four items.
ACCESS reports scores for each of the domains—reading, writing, listening, and speaking—as well as four composite scores. The overall composite score is formed by weighting reading and writing by 35 percent each and by weighting listening and speaking by 15 percent each. Reading and writing are weighted higher on the basis of the test developer’s judgment about their importance for academic language proficiency. An oral language composite score is formed by equally weighting scores in listening and speaking; similarly, a literacy composite score is formed by equally weighting the scores in reading and writing. The comprehension composite score weights reading by 70 percent and listening by 30 percent (from Bauman et al., 2007, p. 90).
ACCESS scores are reported using six proficiency levels: entering, beginning, developing, expanding, bridging, and reaching, defined as follows (MacGregor et al., 2009):
Entering: English language learners will process, understand, produce, or use
pictorial or graphic representation of the language of the content areas;