Assessment (SOL & WIDA)

ESL students in Virginia participate in two assessment programs. A general description of both programs is provided here, which will include annual expectations that are consistently in place. More specific guidelines that may change year-to-year will be updated and maintained on the division's Test Website located on the Instructional page.

SOL Assessment

All ESL students in grades 3 and above participate in SOL testing. This testing includes grade-level grouping in two categories.

students working on laptops
  • Grades 3-8
  • Students in high school courses with end-of-course (EOC) assessments

In general, all ESL students are expected to participate in SOL tests for Reading, Mathematics, Science, History, Social Science, and Writing. The content test assignments in grades 3-8 change from grade to grade. There are 10 high school end-of-course tests which students must pass to earn a diploma.

SOL Accommodations

ESL students may be entitled to accommodations for testing. Decisions about specific accommodations are determined by the student's proficiency level and established by an ESL student committee at each school. Guidelines for determining the testing status and accommodations are located on the county's testing website.

Plain English Math

ESL students can take Plain English Math test if they have an ACCESS for ELLs (WIDA) composite score of less than:

3.5 (grades 3-5)

3.3 (grades 6-8)

3.5 (grades 9-12 Algebra only)

ESL students can also take the Plain English Math test if they enrolled in a school in the United States less than one year from the date of testing.

Exemptions

  • Reading - ESL students who have been enrolled in a school in the United States for less than one year from the date of the test can receive a one-time exemption in Reading (grades 3-8).
  • Math - There is no exemption in the math test.
  • Science - All ESL students are required to take one elementary, one middle, and one high school level Science SOL test. An ESL student may be exempted from the 3rd grade SOL test, but must take the 5th grade test. No other science exemptions are available.
  • Social Studies and Writing - Students in grades 3-8 may have a one-time exemption in Social Studies and Writing (5th and 8th grades only). There are no other exemptions for Social Studies and Writing.

Proficiency

An ESL student proficiency level is determined by ACCESS for ELLs composite and literacy score. A student who scores 5.0 or above on both the literacy and the composite (Tier C test) are considered "formerly ESL students" and are not entitled to any accommodations.

Accommodations

ESL students have direct linguistic accommodations and indirect linguistic accommodations. The linguistic accommodations involve adjustments to the language of the test. Indirect linguistics accommodations involve adjustments to the conditions under which the test is taken.

Direct Linguistic

  • Read aloud or audio (except Reading)
  • Bilingual Dictionary
  • English Dictionary
  • Dictation to a Scribe (Writing prompt only)
  • Plain English Math

Indirect Linguistic

  • Flexible schedule
  • Visual aids
  • Mark in test book
Access for ESL or WIDA Assessment

WIDA stands for World Class Instructional Design and Assessment. This assessment establishes the proficiency level of all ESL students. The test is given annually in the spring to all ESL students and assesses students in the four key skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The WIDA test is designed from content instructional standards of learning that align closely with Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs). These language domains are:

  • The Language of Social Interaction
  • The Language of English
  • The Language of Mathematics
  • The Language of Science
  • The Language of Social Studies
The focus of the WIDA is to advance the academic language development and the overall academic achievement for ESL students. These learning standards were developed in 2004 and have evolved such that in 2012 an updated version of Amplified Language Development Standards was introduced. The improvements continually seek to make the standards more meaningful for this diverse group of students. School and employment success require a good understanding of all aspects of the English language. The amplified standards expand standards to address three new "strands" of language understanding. First, linguistic complexity which addresses a student's need to communicate with a connected sentence discourse with wide majority of different types of sentences. A second amplification focuses on the need for students to write sentence patterns with a variety of complex grammar construction, and the third amplification focuses on vocabulary usage.
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