Why Did you Start Using WIDA?
GWA started using WIDA as an assessment tool to determine students' English language proficiency levels about 2 years ago. One advantage of adopting the WIDA standards at GWA is that it not only allows for the accessibility of a range of language development levels, but it also connects to the cultural diversity of students. In a school like ours, with 90-odd nationalities, this can make an important difference for so many of our students. WIDA implementation has assisted in the whole school English as an Additional Language (EAL) team being more efficient in identifying students that meet criteria for EAL services. Prior to WIDA, the identification process was not effective and students that would benefit from services were not identified.
Since the implementation of WIDA, GWA has invested in professional learning for teachers. EAL teachers have attended WIDA Institutes and Symposiums as well as GWA hosting an in-house WIDA training for 35 teachers in September 2017. This training consisted of all of the school's EAL teachers along with a representative from each grade level in elementary and representatives from English, Math, Design, and Science and Individuals and Societies in secondary. Teachers worked collaboratively with their EAL specialists and focused on how to take students' WIDA scores using the language lens to differentiate their lessons and unit plans. After attending the in-house WIDA training, the staff who attended have implemented the strategies and come out more confident to make the necessary adjustments to help their students. The teachers who attended this training are also sharing strategies with their teams during collaborative planning.