Why Did you Start Using WIDA?
Our school has a highly mobile international population of students and we see the WIDA Standards Framework as a relevant and comprehensive system for building a common vision throughout our entire community. In this way, we have a unified set of criteria and understanding regarding what learning a second language for academic success means. We are beginning to use it with our English Language Learners (ELL) as well as our Spanish as a Second Language Learners (SSL).
We began using WIDA in the ELL department of the High School as we were looking for a test of English that was more appropriate to our needs than the combination of tests we had been using in the past. What we didn't realize before is that WIDA is much, much more than just a test to determine a student's level of English. A world opened up to us which we are still very much exploring. In SSL, we have taken WIDA MODEL as a framework in order to integrate the national curriculum program "Diseño Curricular Nacional" into our own Language Continuum for parallel bi-literacy development. We are developing evaluation tools that will help Spanish language teachers at Lincoln to properly assess our students' language development across all divisions.
How has it supported student learning and program growth?
We are very excited about how WIDA will be able to support our learners. Just getting everyone - students, teachers and administrators - using the same system at all levels will bring coherence and many other benefits. Using the very handy Essential Actions handbook as a guide, we hope to begin incorporating the standards and performance indicators into our planning. The use of Can Do descriptors and the Can Do philosophy itself will create a very positive perspective through which the whole school can view our bilingual students and raise awareness of the wonderful assets and resources they bring into our community.