English Language Proficiency Assessments


Maine administers the annual English language proficiency assessment, ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) in grades K-12 to students who have been identified as English learners.  This assessment is administered in a computer-based format for grades 1-12, in paper-based format for kindergarten, and is also available in paper-based format as an accommodation, as identified on an Individualized Education Plan. 

* Please note, while the assessment name is ACCESS for ELLs, in Maine the term multilingual learners, or MLs, is used to describe bilingual and multilingual students who are in the process of learning English.  Honoring and Celebrating All Languages Spoken by Maine Students with the Shift to Multilingual Learners Terminology

ACCESS for ELLs assesses each of the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing.  It also measures language proficiency within different content areas, including reading, math, and science.  ESOL coordinators and service providers can use ACCESS data in triangulation with other data points to inform the development of local Lau Plans, establish multi-tiered systems of support, and allocate resources for services of multilingual learners (MLs)


Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 

The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) is Maine’s assessment of English language proficiency (ELP) assessment for students in grades 1-12 who are identified as English learners and have the most significant cognitive disabilities.

All students identified as multilingual learners must be assessed annually for ELP, including students who receive special education services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act also mandates that students with disabilities participate in statewide and district-wide assessment programs, including alternate assessments with appropriate accommodations, as documented in their Individualized Education Plan. For this reason, Maine uses the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs to meet federal accountability requirements and to provide educators with a measure sensitive to ELP growth of English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities. 

It is important to note that the decision for a student to participate in alternate assessments must be made utilizing state guidance resources (see below Resources for Educators: Alternate ACCESS for ELLsand via the IEP Team process. 


Resources for Educators ACCESS for ELLs

WIDA State- Specific Information for Maine 

ACCESS for ELLs Test Administration Manual

Resources for Educators Alternate ACCESS for ELLs

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs Administration Training (WIDA Secure Portal login required) 

Alternate Assessment Eligibility Participation Flowchart

Alternate Assessment Participation Checklist


Professional Learning & Assessment Resources

WIDA Self-Paced e-Learning Workshops

WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework 


Stay In the know!


Jodi Bossio-Smith, Director of Assessment
Interim Alternate Assessment & WIDA Coordinator

Subscribe to the MEA Listserv

Subscribe to the Alternate Assessment 

Subscribe to ESL Communication

When you subscribe to the above links, you will receive periodic information from our coordinators as information becomes available.