American International School of Johannesburg serves a population of 1200 students, including approximately 20% English language learners. We cover four divisions and two campuses. WIDA was introduced to our school by our Learning Support Coordinator six years ago. It has often been used:
- To assess students applying to the school
- To take initial baseline data on new ELL students
- As a diagnostic tool
- As an ongoing assessment, as one data point, to determine student placement as either beginner/intermediate ELL
- A measure, on an annual basis, to determine growth and to document proficiency levels as students approach grades 11 and 12 (to ensure academic independence should they seek the full IB diploma).
WIDA MODEL results are used as one data point, in addition to grade level and teacher input to inform those decisions, when making decisions for ELL program support. Prior to using WIDA MODEL, divisions had tried out other tools but found that those other tools did not give as much valuable information as WIDA MODEL.
Although WIDA has been in place at AISJ for six years, few of our teachers have had the benefit of being trained by a WIDA trainer. We have studied the tool in groups and taken steps to improve our administration skills through professional learning networks. We look forward to having our entire LS and ELL staff learn attend the WIDA Scaffolding Workshop at our school in April. This will also allow us to engage in vertical conversations so that we can determine how to best use WIDA resources in a consistent and meaningful way.
Please join AISJ at the WIDA Workshop: Scaffolding Learning through Language on April 6-7, 2019.