Moving Through and Exiting ESL

Moving Through and Exiting ESL

Moving Through and Exiting ESL

English Language Development, WIDA Levels and the Goal of ESL Support:  A chief goal of ESL support is to help English Learners achieve the high levels of Academic English Proficiency needed to succeed with career and educational goals. The WIDA English Language Proficiency levels offer one measure of this Proficiency.   The following tables set forth the basic criteria for each WIDA Level.

Grade-Level, Proficiency-based Learning Supports: The MPS Multilingual Department Programming Framework sets forth basic expectations for the form and amount of support each English Learner will receive.  

Schools may modify this basic framework based on student and building needs. The ESL teacher can provide more details about the specifics of any student's ESL supports.

Moving Through and Exiting ESL Services: To ensure that students are receiving the appropriate ESL supports for both Language Development and academic achievement, all English Learners' progress and need for services will be reviewed by a school-based team (that includes classroom teachers and ESL teachers) throughout the year.

In order to ensure that all English Learners in MPS are making adequate progress in acquiring academic English and increasing English language proficiency, the school district uses resources developed by WIDA:  

  • ACCESS for ELs:  Students identified as EL are assessed annually in the four domains of reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Based on the results of this assessment, students receive an English proficiency level which determines level of service at their school.  Students who receive an English proficiency level of 4.5 or higher with at least three domain (Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing) scores of 3.5 or higher will be Exited from EL services.
  • Alternate ACCESS for ELs:  This English language proficiency test given annually to students in grades 1-12 who have been identified as ELs and have significant cognitive disabilities that limit their participation in the standard ACCESS test. Students are assessed in the four language domains of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. The ACCESS test is only administered during the annual test window for the state of Minnesota. Based on the results of this assessment, the student will be assigned an English proficiency level. That level will be used to determine what EL Support services the student will receive at his/her school.
  • WIDA Screener:  This English proficiency placement test is given to incoming students who have a home language other than English. This test is meant to assist with identification and placement of ELs. If the results of this placement test indicate that a student is eligible for EL services (see Entrance Criteria), the student will be placed in an EL program and the test results will be used to determine an appropriate level of service.

At the end of each school year, ESL staff will evaluate ACCESS scores to determine each student's eligibility for ongoing EL support. When a student meets the criteria for Exiting, they will be reclassified in late Spring for the next school year and will no longer receive EL services. These same Exit Criteria are used to determine reclassification of Dual Eligible (Special Education) students.

Change in ESL Status: In addition to Exiting, several actions throughout the school year may result in a change in a student's EL status:




Possible Results


 Late May (after ACCESS test scores have arrived)

Based on performance on the WIDA ACCESS, a student might be exited or “graduate” from ESL services.

Exit or remain in ESL

 Waiver Review

 1ST semester

For students who have refused recommended ESL services, a school-based team reviews WIDA scores and other indicators of language and academic development.

Recommendation to students and parents to either continue with Waived status or to accept ESL services.

 Change of Status

 As needed

If parents request a change in ESL status (such as deciding to Waive EL services, or to accept services that were previously Waived). A student's status may also change if parents request that a student who had Exited from EL services be re-assessed due to language/academic concerns.

Change of ESL status (as agreed upon by student, parents, and teachers).