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Testing Accommodations Guide: Part 2 (English Learners)


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, students in the District are experiencing instruction in a variety of ways, including both distance and in-person learning. We acknowledge that due to these shifts, local education agencies (LEAs) and schools are navigating new operational challenges with respect to assessments. Our first priority is the health and safety of students and educators. LEAs and schools are working incredibly hard to deliver the highest quality instruction and most supportive environment possible. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is committed to partnering to both reduce administrative burden where possible, and to support interpretation of the results of our assessments given our new context. Having a statewide measure of academic performance this year will help us better understand where our students are, where supports are needed, and how we can work together to address learning loss experienced during this time.

OSSE supports the use of appropriate testing accommodations for all District of Columbia’s students with disabilities (SWDs), English learners (ELs), and ELs with disabilities. The 2020-21 Testing Accommodations Guide was created to ensure that:

  • Participation in assessments for SWDs and ELs is consistent in all District of Columbia districts, schools, and programs;
  • Appropriate accessibility features are provided to students who need them;
  • Appropriate accommodations are provided to all eligible qualified students; and
  • Accommodations used in assessment are also used in daily instruction.

The information and requirements described in Part II of this guide apply to ELs taking content-specific statewide assessments and to ELs taking the World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 assessment. Please note that the accommodations for ELs taking content-specific statewide assessments may not be appropriate for the English language proficiency test, because it focuses on language proficiency rather than content area knowledge and skills. For more information regarding accommodations on English language proficiency tests, visit the WIDA website.

Part II of this guide provides an overview of each accommodation for ELs, its intended use, and eligibility criteria. Additionally, this manual connects each accommodation to its equivalent accommodation, accessibility feature, or administrative consideration specific to each DC statewide assessment.

In the 2020-21 school year statewide assessment season, ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 2.0, and the Multi-State Alternate Assessments (MSAA) in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics will be administered in-person only. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments in ELA and mathematics will be administered both in-person and remotely. Additional considerations for administration of PARCC accommodations for students testing remotely are included in Appendix A of this document.

Accommodations used during testing should be generally consistent with what is being used by the student during instruction. This principle applies to in-person, hybrid, and distance learning. It is important that conditions for distance learning be largely consistent with remote testing conditions. Please note that for remote PARCC testing, the way in which a student receives an accommodation may look different than if they were in person, but every reasonable effort should be made to ensure that students receive the supports to which they are entitled.

Additional materials and technical assistance are available to help school personnel become more familiar with information presented in this manual. Please contact the OSSE Office of Data, Assessment, and Research (DAR) for further information at [email protected] or visit the OSSE Testing Accommodations website.


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