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English Language Proficiency Assessment

Annual State English Language Proficiency Assessment: PDE is a member of the multi-state World Class Instruction Design and Assessment (WIDA) Consortium. The WIDA Consortium developed an assessment entitled Assessing Communication and Comprehension in English State to State for English Language Learners (ACCESS for ELLs). The Pennsylvania Department of Education uses the ACCESS for ELLs as the required instrument for the annual assessment of English language proficiency. Access for ELLs is a standards-based, criterion referenced English language proficiency test designed to measure English language learners' proficiency in English. It assesses social and instructional English as well as the language associated with Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies within the school context across the four language domains of listening, speaking, reading and writing. The ACCESS for ELLs is used to reliably and validly assess the English language development (ELD) of English language learners (ELLs) in Grades K–12 according to the WIDA 2012 Amplification of the English Language Development Standards Kindergarten–Grade 12 (WIDA Consortium, 2012). Results on ACCESS for ELLs are used by PDE and local education agencies for monitoring the progress of students, for making decisions about reclassifying students from language instruction educational programs, and for accountability. For more information about the technical characteristics and quality of the assessment, please visit the WIDA webpage at For more information about the WIDA English Language Development Standards, please visit

ACCESS for ELLs Test Security Procedures: The security of state administered assessments is of the utmost importance in regard to the PDE assessment and accountability system. The Bureau of Assessment and Accountability has outlined the state's expectations and procedures on test booklet security, test administration security, and the identification and reporting of test security violations.  Breaches in test security must be quickly identified and reported to PDE. 

Alternate ACCESS for ELLs: The Alternate ACCESS for ELLs is an assessment of English language proficiency (ELP) for students in grades 1-12 who are classified as English language learners (ELLs) and have significant cognitive disabilities that prevent their meaningful participation in the ACCESS for ELLs® assessment.

Academic Assessments

ELLs also participate in academic assessments with allowed accommodations. For current guidance on testing requirements and allowed accommodations for ELLs, please reference the current PSSA and Keystone Accommodation Guidelines at the PSSA Resources section of PDE's website.

The Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) includes assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics which are taken by students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Students in grades 4 and 8 are administered the Science PSSA.

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to assess proficiency in various subjects. The Keystone Exams are one component of Pennsylvania's proposed system of high school graduation requirements.

Project Based Assessments are alternative assessments for Students who are unable to meet Chapter 4 requirements relating to high school graduation requirements through the Keystone Exam may qualify to complete a project based assessment.

State Testing Dates

Please visit the PA state page on the WIDA website for current testing dates.