Multilingual Learners: English Language Proficiency Assessment

​The English language proficiency assessment (ELPA) is administered to Multilingual Learners in grades K through 12 upon their entry into the school system (WIDA Screener) and annually during a testing window in the second semester (ACCESS for ELLs). The assessment measures a student's English language proficiency in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, writing, and literacy.  ELPA results are reported in six proficiency levels: entering, emerging, developing, expanding, bridging, and reaching.

The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is designed for ELs with significant cognitive disabilities. In order to receive the most descriptive information from the test, it is very important that only students who meet all three criteria below and who cannot participate in the ACCESS for ELLs—even with the provision of accommodations—shall be considered for the Alternate ACCESS for ELLs.

Participation criteria:

  1. the student has been classified as an EL;
  2. the student has a significant cognitive disability and is eligible for special education services under Individual with Disbailities Education Act (IDEA); and
  3. the student is in an alternate curriculum aligned with his or her state's academic standards, and is participating in the state's alternate accountability assessment.

The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is available for the 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12 grade clusters.

English Learner Exit Criteria: ACCESS for ELLs and Alternate ACCESS for ELLs 

  • ACCESS for ELLs (K-12): Overall composite proficiency level of 4.5 or above
  • Alternate ACCESS for ELLs (1-12): Overall composite proficiency level of P2  

Exemption of Recently Arrived Multilingual Learners

Maryland exempts "recently arrived" ELs from one administration of its reading assessment during the first year of enrollment in U.S. schools per Federal law.

Accommodations for Multilingual Learners

Both Federal and State laws require the inclusion of all students, including ELs in large scale assessments and equal access to grade-level content standards. Teachers ensure that students work toward grade-level content standards by using a range of instructional strategies based on the varied strengths and needs of students. Providing accommodations during instruction and assessments may also promote equal access to grade-level content. The State does not prohibit native language instruction. The State does not require a waiver or parental permission for students to receive instruction in their native language. Please see the Maryland Assessment, Accessibility, & Accommodations Policy Manual and COMAR regulations.