Focus School: Cotopaxi Academy

Academia Cotopaxi American International School is a private, independent, coeducational, and inclusive American international day school serving students from Preschool through Grade 12. The School was founded in 1959 and is located in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito. The student body is proudly international with 850 students representing 38 countries.

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Why did you start using WIDA?

Academia Cotopaxi is an English-language based international school in Quito, Ecuador, with a student population of bilingual/multilingual students, the majority of whom claim Spanish as their Mother Tongue. We celebrate our vibrant community of English Language Learners by providing a strong framework to support the varied language journeys of our diverse student body. We have been using the WIDA Model as an assessment tool for several years, and are now beginning to take advantage of WIDA as a holistic framework. Over the course of the summers of 2017 and 2018, we sent key personnel to the WIDA Institute in Wisconsin and the WIDA Symposium in Lima with the focus of using WIDA as the foundation to build a stronger ELL program.

How has WIDA supported student learning and program growth?

An intensive year-long program review in the 2017-2018 school year led our department to new ways of thinking about how to best serve our large population of language learners. Aligning ourselves with WIDA’s belief in co-teaching, our ELL department is now experimenting with models of co-planning using WIDA tools, such as the Can-Do Descriptors and Model Performance Indicators. With the support of the WIDA framework, our ELL team aims to guide all teachers to see themselves as language teachers.  In addition, we established new school-wide norms for assessing students using the WIDA Model, both new and current, to create a school-wide database. This database of WIDA results has helped us determine which students will benefit from extra support, and has also enabled us to develop new models for supporting teachers. In addition, it has uncovered new areas for development, such as new courses in the Middle and High Schools focused on English for Academic Purposes (EAP) to address the needs of our advanced Language Learners who need a different type of support than beginners. These advancements in our program perfectly align with WIDA’s can-do ethos and Academia Cotopaxi’s vision of an Inclusive school. 

Comments from Teachers/Administrators at Academia Cotopaxi:

“In the world of international education, with transient students, it is our responsibility to assess our students’ needs to be able to cater for them. With this in mind, standardized tests are helpful and WIDA now is giving us more data on the English levels of our students. Also, the "can-do" descriptors are powerful tools for supporting our students.” - Frederic Bordaguibel-Labayle, HS Principal

“Having WIDA scores for our students has improved planning for student learning. However, WIDA has given us so much more than a tool for assessing our ELL population. Using WIDA tools like the Can-Do descriptors and Model Performance Indicators, we are able to better co-plan and collaborate to make sure we are targeting language standards more explicitly and providing supports for ELs in the classroom.” - Gera Burrier, ELL Specialist 

Hand written word cloud of words describing English language learning professional development“Why we chose WIDA? Our school identified that we needed a tool that would help us to establish entry/exit criteria for students in our ELL program. So, initially we did use scores as indicators of what we called "classroom fluency" for grades 2-8 We did plan to include a deeper use of WIDA to support our ELL learning trajectory. Beginning in 2017, Our ELL teachers have been using the "can-do" descriptors to guide instruction and to support parent understanding of learning in reporting. We now see that WIDA is a tool that we can use beyond assessment and it is exciting!” - Paola Pereira, ES Principal

Become a WIDA Focus School

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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.