WIDA MODEL Online launches new test content

August 6, 2020

WIDA is excited to announce the launch of new test content for WIDA MODEL Online. This is the first major enhancement of the assessment since its initial release in 2015. The enhanced assessment offers a significant number of new test items in each of the four language domains: speaking, listening, writing and reading. Built upon the WIDA English language development standards, WIDA MODEL can be administered at any time during the year to determine the English language proficiency level of students new to a school, to make decisions about student placement for instructional services and support, and to assess students as an interim measure to inform instructional planning and other decisions related to students’ education. In WIDA Consortium member states, territories and agencies, WIDA MODEL also predicts performance on ACCESS for ELLs assessments to guide instructional and curricular decisions until ACCESS scores are reported.

Development Details

In 2017, WIDA documented educator requests for enhancements to the WIDA MODEL Online assessment. Among their requests, the following items stood out:

  • Refreshed test content to reduce concerns of excessive exposure
  • More rigorous test items, especially for the reading and speaking domains
  • Greater use of international themes and language so that the test content was more relevant to students in international schools

The WIDA assessment team then started working to build new content to meet those requests. The process is quite complex and takes time to ensure the highest levels of quality control. It all started with the initial development of new test items. WIDA collaborated with two reliable vendor partners, the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), and MetriTech, the online platform developer and host. The new test content then went through several reviews to check for any bias, content, or sensitivity issues. Items were reviewed by both domestic educators and, for the first time ever, international educators.

Test items that made it through the bias, content and sensitivity reviews were then prepared for extensive field testing. WIDA recruited more than 2,000 students to take part in the writing domain field test. Several thousand students also participated in embedded field testing for the speaking, reading and listening domain items. Both field tests took place concurrently over the span of five months.

The next part of the process included extensive analysis of performance for each test item to ensure that all content met very high WIDA expectations for assessment design. WIDA selected the best performing items and then completed another round of quality control on a preview version of new content within the WIDA MODEL Online test platform. That process has now reached its conclusion with the launch of significant new test content.

“What’s new for WIDA MODEL Online?”

  • The assessment now includes a significant amount of refreshed content in each of the four language domain tests
  • WIDA added a higher proportion of refreshed content for the speaking and writing domains in direct response to requests from the field
  • The proportion of assessment content centered on U.S. cultural and historical themes has been reduced to make the test more accessible to all students worldwide
  • Beyond the assessment, PowerPoint training files for scoring the speaking and writing tests have been enhanced to improve access and file compatibility for the materials that were updated

While there is a significant amount of new test content, there are no changes to the test administrator manual and only one change to test administrator scripts. WIDA MODEL screener test administrator scripts are now separate documents from the WIDA MODEL summative test administrator scripts, as the content of each assessment is now different. Both the screener and summative test administrator scripts can be found in their respective grade-level cluster sections under the WIDA MODEL Test Administration Interface “Training > Training Materials” tab.

We encourage educators to sample the new test content for themselves. For details about WIDA MODEL Online trial accounts, please contact Suzanne Johar or visit the WIDA Store website.


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