Ways to Authentically Assess Your ELLs (and why not to stress about ACCESS)


Click below to hear how to authentically assess your ELLs:

Every year around this time, we assess our ELL students using the ACCESS test. This test causes stress and overwhelm for many teachers, but in this episode, I want to remind you that you are not defined by the results of this test.

Today I’m going to share why you don’t need to stress about ACCESS testing. Plus I’m going to give you a few ways to truly assess your students so that you can celebrate their progress and you can know what areas they need to work on.

Educational thought leader, Ana Fabrega, says “The purpose of any assessment should be to help kids see what they don’t understand so they can improve, not punish them for what they don’t know.” 

With this definition of assessment in mind, how well does the ACCESS test do with this? Exactly…not well at all. That’s why you shouldn’t stress about it.

After today’s episode, I hope you will feel less stressed about ACCESS testing and walk away with clear and easy ways to check in with your ELL students to see their real growth and progress this year. 

Learning a language is very difficult and it takes a lot of vulnerability, so be sure to celebrate every win, no matter how small. By the end of the year, you’re going to see the benefits of pouring into your students and how much you have helped them grow.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • 3 reasons why you don’t need to stress about the ACCESS test and how to put this assessment into perspective so you can prioritize what’s really important when it comes to assessing your students
  • Easy ways to check in and see the progress your students are making that will help you plan your lessons to meet their needs
  • How to include your students in the assessment process so they can take responsibility for their learning and reach higher expectations
  • What formative assessments are and simple, yet effective, ways to gather formative data
  • Ideas for giving students choice when it comes to showing what they have learned and why it’s so important

Related resources:

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More about Equipping ELLs:

We all know that teaching isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be this hard. Equipping ELLs is a podcast for both ESL specialists and homeroom teachers who are looking for effective and engaging ways to support their English Language Learners without adding to their endless to-do list. Tune in each week to hear tips, strategies, and inspirational stories that will empower you to better reach your ELL students, equip them with life-long skills, and strengthen relationships with colleagues and parents.

Your host, Beth Vaucher, is the founder of Inspiring Young Learners. She is an ESL certified homeroom teacher with over 10 years of experience teaching in the US and internationally. Her background of M.Ed in ESL and Curriculum and Instruction combined with her experience has led her to develop a bestselling newcomer curriculum that has sold in over 90 countries around the globe. She brings a different perspective to teaching ELLs from her years teaching and living abroad and working with ELLs from around the world. You will walk away from each episode with the ideas and tools you need to transform your experience as a teacher and cultivate a thriving and welcoming environment for your ELL students.



  • Wow!We are in the throws of testing this past week and into this week. Thank you for shedding light on the assessment process and what to expect from the state assessments. I have many different assessments I use for my students that incorporate all of the domains. For our Words their Way assessment, my students have a graph they color. I also have a high frequency/sight word assessment for my students. For those that are still struggling with this vocabulary, I send home laminated copies with a lesson plan. I also use our older students as readers for our read alouds which allows me to instantly assess what the students comprehend within the story. Thank you again Beth. I feel less like the English Language oasis when I listen to your podcasts!

  • Our district administers the LAS Links. Your #10 podcast is a good reminder that these assessments are a snap-shot in the middle of the year and the student has 9 other months to show growth. The 4 points discussed are helpful to help me stay focused. Thanks.

  • So helpful! A shot in the arm while feeling the toll that ACCESS testing and coming off of that brings to my psyche! The practical examples and resources (simplified Can-Do’s, value the day to day note taking, finding even clay to give expressive outlets to our students)really do resonate as “help-on-the-spot” for me. Thank you!


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