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.


Researchers in the Alternate English Language Learner Assessment (ALTELLA) project seek to better understand how to apply lessons learned from research on successful instructional practices, accommodations, and assessing English language learners (ELLs) and students with cognitive disabilities to develop an alternate English language proficiency assessment for these students.

They are using these findings to develop an evidence-centered design approach to inform the future developments related to alternate English language proficiency assessments. ALTELLA was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and established a partnership of five state departments of education – some from the WIDA Consortium – and the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. WIDA is using project findings to inform developments regarding Alternate ACCESS for ELLs. Visit the ALTELLA website to learn more.

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.

Exploring Multilingual Parents’ Perceptions about their Children’s Early Care and Education Programs

In collaboration with the Madison Education Partnership, this research is investigating the reliability and validity of a survey instrument developed to collect parents’ perceptions about multilingual children’s Early Care and Education (ECE) programs, and particularly about how ECE programs engage parents as partners in children’s language learning and development. The project will also use interviews with parents of young multilingual learners to collect more in-depth information about how parents make decisions about their child’s ECE program enrollment and attendance. Results will contribute to the currently limited research base about how parents of multilingual children perceive of ECE programs and about how they use this information to make decisions about their children’s enrollment and attendance.

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 research will more closely examine characteristics of the LTEL population, including the characteristics of their language development and academic performance in the content areas, within and across three states. As part of this study, researchers will use latent growth modeling to explore and compare patterns in language and content growth trajectories among LTELs, former ELs, and never-ELs.