About Our Tests/Scores

  • WIDA:

    In Massachusetts public schools we measure English proficiency based on tests and scoring systems from an organization called WIDA. If your family has recently moved to Massachusetts from public schools in another state that uses WIDA, our tests will look familiar to you.

    WIDA Levels: We measure each English Learner's skills in Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Students often have different scores in the different language domains. For example, a student might develop Listening skills before Writing.

    There are 6 levels on the WIDA scale. Students who score at Level 1- Entering are often learning their first words of English. Students who score at Level 6 - Reaching have English skills similar to those of their native English speaking peers.

    We use your students' WIDA scores to place them in the English Language Development program, to form small groups, to decide which skills to teach them next, and to eventually graduate them from the English as a Second Language program.

    The Tests:

    Screening tools: Whenever a new family moves to the district, they fill out a Home Language Survey. If any language other than English is mentioned on any line of the form, we screen the student with an English test designed for their age level. The pre-school or kindergarten test usually takes 10-15 minutes. The middle school test takes about 50-60 minutes. If the test results show that the student needs additional instruction in English to help them succeed in school, we enter them into our program.

    ACCESS: Each January, all English Learners in Massachusetts public schools take a WIDA test called the ACCESS. It is a longer test that examines Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing skills in a little more detail.

    We receive the scores from the ACCESS test in June. We look at those scores to see how their English skills are developing year-to-year.

    There is nothing to study for either of these tests. They are an opportunity for us to note how each child's English skills are developing so that we can chart their growth over time. Students of all English levels are welcome in Sudbury Public Schools.

    The MCAS: All Massachusetts public school students in Grades 3-12 also take a standardized test called the MCAS. The MCAS tests whether students are meeting grade-level expectations by demonstrating mastery of the subject matter.

    The results are important to the school and we hope that students will try their best. However, the MCAS test is not nearly as important to a child's future as standardized tests in other countries such as India, South Korea, or China.

    No test preparation is necessary for the MCAS and we hope that students will feel relaxed during the test. We ask parents only to help ensure that students are well-rested and well-fed the morning of the test. If a child misses a session of the MCAS due to illness, they can take the test on a later date.

    Parents' Guide to the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)

    Accommodations: How is the MCAS different for English Learners?

    The State of Massachusetts understands that the MCAS may be especially challenging for students who are still developing their English language proficiency. For this reason, we are able to make some small changes for students who need them. These decisions are made by the ELD teacher and other school professionals who know the student well. If your student takes the MCAS with one of these small changes, it will not affect their score.

    Here are some examples of ways the MCAS may be different for English learners:

    • EL students in their first year in the United States may not need to take the English Language Arts test.

    • EL students who can read in more than one language may be given a bilingual word-to-word dictionary.

    • EL students may be read the test questions out loud by a teacher.

    • EL students may take the test alone or in a small group instead of taking the test in a large room full of students.