Voices Vol 41 No 3

A Visit to the Center for Applied Linguistics to Review Post- ACCESS Test Items

By Monica Schnee

On June 12 and 13, I was invited to participate in a post field test review with members of WIDA and CAL in Washington, DC. Both organizations had asked a number of member states to select one educator to go to look at test items that had already been field-tested but did not meet their criteria to be used by our students as part of ACCESS.

I was honored that I was asked to go and felt great excitement to learn more about how ACCESS is developed.

I want to state that we signed a confidentiality agreement whereby none of the items discussed can be shared.

The intent of this piece is to somehow describe the time, effort, dedication, commitment, and expertise that go behind developing the ACCESS tests and by extension, the WIDA MODEL.

As a teacher who has individually administered both tests to hundreds of children, I never cease to be amazed at how reliable and valid these instruments are. Many of you have participated in my WIDA Model Workshops in the last two years at the NJTESOL/NJBE Spring Conference. I always preface the presentations by saying that I do not work for WIDA, and I don’t, but I believe in the integrity and quality of their work.

For two days, a group of 12 educators, ESL teachers, DOE staff, and supervisors ranging from Hawaii to New Hampshire, met with WIDA and CAL test developers and psychometricians to learn about how reliability is measured and to deliberate and give feedback on how to make corrections to these “problematic” test items. This is what I took away from the experience that I am at liberty to share:

I left DC feeling that though the screening and test are lengthy and exhaustive, it is well worth my time and that of my students. Since I started using the MODEL, and during all of the years of ACCESS testing, I have never doubted that what our students and we are asked to do makes sense. Now I know it!

Monica Schnee, PRE K-Kindergarten SIG Representative