Computer Adaptive Test (CAT)

Review of the DRC Insight Access for ELLs 2.0 Assessment

Access for ELLs 2.0 assessment

The DRC Insight assessment for English Language Learners (ELLs) meets the federal WIDA assessment requirement for districts to report on the performance of students identified as limited-English proficient (LEP). The assessment, in version 2.0 is an online assessment that is adaptive in nature. North Carolina is one of many states in the nation participating in this assessment.

How is Access adaptive?

Adaptive assessments evaluate, in real-time, a student's ability to respond to the material being presented and can adapt the test question difficulty or length of test according to the student's demonstrated understanding. According to WIDA documentation, "students progress through the test based on their performance on previous folders" and, "the test engine determines the appropriate items the student sees next."

Access assesses four domains: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. The results from the Speaking and Writing domains are captured online, but are evaluated off-line. The Listening and Reading results are captured online and the test engine can adapt the next question sets based on the student's performance.


  • Online delivery of audio and prompts makes it possible to have many students in different grade levels participate in one session, reducing the number of required administrators and proctors
  • Adaptive approach helps prevent the students from being "beaten up" by content that is beyond their performance level. The results are, arguably, more authentic and representative of the student's actual ability.
  • Being adaptive helps to reduce the standardization of this "standardized test". Students are assessed more closely on their ability, rather than on a set of standards at which they should be performing.


  • Technical issues make it imperative that technical support be on hand throughout the session. Issues include being kicked out of the test, being unable to hear or read question prompts that cannot be repeated, etc.
  • While the number of sessions, administrators and proctors is reduced, the start-up effort to get each session underway does require many hands. One adult to three students is a fair number. Most of those individuals can leave once the test begins.
  • The preparation of the technology environment is very complex and time-consuming. As an example, the user's manual for the technical setup alone is hundreds of pages in length.
  • Testing is a brutal thing for our students to endure, particularly the younger students. Access tests down to 1st Grade online. (editorial)