As the end of 2020 draws near, schools across ND will begin gearing up for ACCESS testing, set to begin on January 11, 2021 and ending on February 19, 2021. ACCESS testing is the annual WIDA assessment of all students who have been previously identified as an English Learner. The domains tested include listening, speaking, reading, and writing and are used for measuring proficiency and demonstrating growth. Educators use ACCESS results, along with other WIDA resources, to make decisions about students' English academic language and to facilitate their language development.
According to U.S. Dept. of Education, as of the 2016-17 school year, North Dakota schools were home to more than 3,000 English language learners. CREA EL Specialist, Maranda Obradovic, is currently contracted to assist EL students in nine CREA member schools this year. Maranda employs WIDA’s ACCESS testing to determine each student’s proficiency level and utilizes that information to write individual language plans (ILP’s) and support educators to help meet EL students’ specific needs.
“We are very grateful to have Maranda from CREA as our EL support in Garrison,” said Shelly Fuller, Principal at Garrison Elementary. “[Maranda] has helped us to navigate in unfamiliar waters as we have had a growing number of students with needs in EL programming in the past two years. Without this service from CREA and Maranda's help and guidance, it would have been much more difficult to meet our students' needs.”
In addition to ACCESS testing, Maranda also provides and interprets home language surveys. If a student is identified as an English Learner, she works with the student’s school to set up a screening that fits the student’s grade level. This screening tool informs the school and Maranda to determine if the student qualifies for EL services. If the student does qualify, an ILP meeting is scheduled with administrators, teachers, and parents to discuss the next steps for that student. Following the ILP meeting, Maranda will monitor the student’s progress and ensure the necessary technology needed at the school is available and being fully utilized. Additionally, Maranda can send materials to the student’s home and provide coaching to the student’s educators on proper English Language Learners practices.
WIDA has developed a comprehensive list of tools and updates for schools to access regarding EL education and Covid-19. These resources are available at https://www.colorincolorado.org/coronavirus.