Focus School: The American School of Yaoundé

Submitted by: Submitted by Esther Pondi on behalf of the ASOY ELL Program

Date: January 2020

ASOY school building
Photo courtesy ASOY

The American School of Yaoundé (ASOY) is an IB (International Baccalaureate) World School located in Yaoundé, Cameroon, West Africa.  ASOY offers all three IB programmes to approximately 200 students in PreK-3 to Grade 12. The school has a diverse student population comprised of students from 33 countries, speaking multiple languages.  For many of the students, English is their third, fourth, or even fifth language. 

Prior to implementing WIDA MODEL, ELL students across the grade levels were assessed with the IDEA Proficiency Test.  In 2017, the primary principal and Learning Support teacher at the time suggested switching to WIDA MODEL to gauge students’ progress. They were aware that WIDA was being widely used in international schools and understood that it provided a better overall view of students’ English language proficiency. Based on research into WIDA, they felt the listening and speaking components in particular were more appropriate and more up-to-date than the IDEA.

The WIDA Model online version was purchased and first used in October 2017. Due to local internet connectivity and power outages, we switched to WIDA MODEL paper in 2018. The WIDA MODEL is currently being used to determine a student’s need for ELL support as well as exit from the program.

teachers gathered at tables
Photo courtesy ASOY

In September 2019, the ELL department at ASOY offered a professional development session to all teaching staff that highlighted WIDA’s philosophical and theoretical approach, the WIDA framework including the guiding principles and essential actions, and how to use the WIDA Can Do Descriptors, Key Uses Edition to help with  lesson planning.  ASOY currently offers ELL support to students through both push-in and pull-out models. WIDA assessment results for ELL students are shared with classroom teachers in elementary and with grade level teams in middle school and high school.  Content/classroom teachers and ELL teachers discuss ways to best support the ELL students in the classroom based on the WIDA MODEL results.

The current ELL staff at ASOY have attended WIDA training, but the scope of how WIDA resources can be used for the benefit of teachers and students is still a work in progress.

“WIDA tells you what your students can do. It confirms initial assessments and enables the teacher to plan accordingly, especially with support from the ELL teachers. WIDA allows for differentiation to meet the needs of individual students, until they acquire English language proficiency, and are able to communicate with their teachers and peers. WIDA aligns with other benchmarks taken by teachers or schools.” (Greca Durant, Grade 1 PYP teacher, American School of Yaoundé)

“I haven't explored it that much but I've been using the descriptors from the WIDA Grade Level Clusters to aid me with planning language specific outcomes. It really helped me identify who is in developing/beginning stage which will certainly help me with report writing too!” (Sarah Santillam-Isern, Grade 4 PYP teacher, American School of Yaoundé)

two women reading a booklet together

Become a WIDA Focus School

Tell us about the ways WIDA has helped your school discover what your learners can do. Please contact Jenny Hill-Wild at hillwild@wisc.edu to nominate your school – or a colleague’s – to become a Focus School for an upcoming issue of the WIDA International Newsletter.