Why Did you Start Using WIDA?
BCIS was founded in 2005. In the elementary school, during our first years of development, we used the MAC II test in our ELL program, but as the school expanded we looked for a more rigorous, personalized test that could support our growing population and follow the BCIS philosophy that believes strongly in a differentiated approach. In 2014 we began to use the WIDA MODEL test. MODEL has provided insight into what students are capable of, as well as giving guidance to our teaching staff when planning and delivering their lessons. It has helped both our ELL team and the homeroom teachers to scaffold the learning taking place in the classroom so that the needs of all students are met in a meaningful and purposeful way. We have found that since introducing the WIDA testing, with its subsequent feedback, our students have shown greater confidence when building their language skills and are participating more actively in their classroom settings.
WIDA MODEL is completed twice yearly to track students' progress and to ensure that they are receiving the correct amount of support as they continue on their language journey. No student at BCIS is rushed through the ELL program. Every student is tracked for their specific development speed and can move across the levels depending on their growth and the changing needs of each year.
How has WIDA supported student learning and program growth in your school?
After participating in a school-wide WIDA professional development workshop in 2015, our teachers have found their tool bank of ideas and resources has been greatly increased across all grade levels. We at BCIS believe that all teachers are language teachers, and therefore the support we received during the workshop has given greater confidence to us when applying ELL strategies within our classrooms. It is hoped that the combination of the WIDA Model test and Can Do statements will continue to give insight into the growth of the students as well as provide valuable information when tracking the ELL students as they go from early years to secondary school.
This year we are beginning to incorporate the "Key Uses Can Do's" and are looking at ways to effectively use them when teaching particular language skills. We are also beginning to trial the online version of MODEL to reduce paper usage and cut down on testing time for teachers.
Comments from Teachers/Administrators at BCIS:
"I found the WIDA Can Do statements gave me a much better understanding of how language develops in those formative years. What was especially useful was the detail about what I should expect from speaking and listening as this is what is most relevant in the age range I teach." - BCIS Homeroom Teacher
"WIDA has brought us a deeper level of understanding about our students, their progress and their needs in their learning journey with us. The data that the WIDA testing provides us, within the context of our curriculum and our school, ensures that we are targeting student learning at the appropriate level." - BCIS Administrator