Recent Projects

two girls looking at a booklet together at a table

Building knowledge about how to support the academic and social success of multilingual learners

The projects below represent some of our recent research collaborations.

ACCESS Validation Research

WIDA conducts validation research to support the implementation and use of its assessments. WIDA provides technical reports, technical documentation, and stand-alone research reports with the aim of supporting teachers’, administrators’ and state policymakers’ understanding of the validity of the WIDA assessment instruments.


The American Indian English Learner Research Alliance (AIERA) is committed to establishing and sustaining long-term relationships that enable members to solve complex issues of mutual interest associated with advancing the academic, cultural, and linguistic needs of American Indian English learners. WIDA is a founding member of the alliance and is proud to partner with researchers, tribal leaders, state and local education agencies, and American Indian communities to support programs that value and build on Native students’ cultures and the languages they bring to school.

Advancing ALTELLA

Advancing ALTELLA: Alternate Assessment Redesign is a four-year, federally-funded project that applies lessons learned from research on successful instructional practices, accommodations, and assessment of English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities to inform development of alternate English language proficiency assessments.

It builds on the initial ALTELLA project (Alternate English Language Learning Assessment) and the past decade of research on assessing English learners and students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.

Advancing ALTELLA researchers strive to provide this group of learners with access to high quality content. This is especially important given that ALTELLA research shows that almost one-quarter of English learners with the most significant cognitive disabilities do not receive English-language services.

Doing and Talking Math and Science

Through the Doing and Talking Math and Science project, researchers and educators worked together to develop instructional resources that support all students in simultaneously doing and talking about science and mathematics. This research, funded by the National Science Foundation, is grounded in the premise that learning math and science means learning how to think in particular ways, how to argue from evidence, and use language to explain and analyze what you understand. When we help our students engage in these practices by facilitating their discussions of complex ideas, we provide multiple opportunities for all our students to become more effective users of English. Visit the Doing and Talking Math and Science website to learn more.

Making Science Multilingual

WIDA and the National Science Teaching Association have joined forces to address the persistent disparities in science education for multilingual learners. Check out their newly published Design Principles for Engaging Multilingual Learners in Three-Dimensional Science

Research on Teacher Learning  

WIDA is engaged in a number of research projects that support and investigate the professional learning of classroom teachers. Ruslana Westerlund conducted a project with elementary teachers in a suburban district in Wisconsin that promoted writing across the curriculum. This research contributed to a model of literacy development for multilingual learners that represents a constructive critique of the widely used materials created by Lucy Calkins. Cynthia Lundgren and Rosalie Grant have been collaborating with a large urban district in New Mexico to enhance culturally responsive curricula with opportunities for language development. Jennifer Wilfrid and Daniella Molle are partnering with David Crowther (University of Nevada-Reno) and a suburban district in Missouri to investigate how teachers’ use of the WIDA Framework for Equitable Instruction (to be released in 2021) can enhance the engagement in science learning of multilingual middle school students.

WIDA Early Years Parent Research

WIDA researchers recently completed research that explores the perceptions and decision-making of parents of young multilingual children, ages 0-5 years, with regard to children’s language learning and development, family engagement, and children’s participation in early care and education (ECE) programs. This research was done in partnership with three WIDA Early Years member states – Maryland, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. The Madison Educational Partnership at WCER funded a second research study. This research will provide information to early care and education professionals and stakeholders about how to strengthen approaches to engaging with families of multilingual children.

Unpacking the “Long-term English Learner” Label

In partnership with the WIDA Research Subcommittee, researchers recently completed a study investigating the size and characteristics of the group of students who remain classified as English learners for six or more years across WIDA states and territories. One goal of this research was to more carefully examine how the “long-term English learner” label is applied across different contexts, and what its consequences are for students. 

View our 2018 LTEL Report on the size and characteristics of the long-term EL population across 15 states.

The next phase of this research is currently underway and will build upon earlier findings. This strand of research will more closely examine the intersection of student disabilities and long-term EL status across multiple WIDA states. As part of this study, we will compare and contrast long-term growth trajectories for “active” ELs with and without IEP (Individual Educational Plan) designations across multiple years, cohorts and grades.