Altoona Area School District

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Assessments for English Language Learners


WIDA stands for World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment. This group designed the ACCESS for ELLS, Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State - for English Language Learners, as a way to accurately evaluate the English language skills of students whose families speak language other than English. Because Pennsylvania is one of 14 states that belong to the consortium that uses ACCESS for ELLs, it is easier to provide appropriate support to students whose families relocate.


The WIDA Acess Placement Test is administered to all new English Language Learners. Students take this test only one time. For example, if a student is new to the Altoona Area School District but has taken the W-APT in another district, the results of the first test can be used to determine the child's level of need.


The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment is administered to all students in grades three, four, five, six, eight and eleven. Tests cover reading, writing, mathematics and science. This test is used to determine whether or not schools are successful in helping all students achieve to higher levels.

English Language Learners are required to take the test regardless of their level of language proficiency; however, reading and writng scores of students who have been in the U.S. for less than one are not factored into the school report. Some accommodations are allowed to make this test a little more comfortable for test takers: extra time, directions explained, one-on-one or small group setting.