Focus School: Hong Kong Academy

Submitted by Kristel Solomon-Saleem

February 2019

teacher in classroom with students
Photo courtesy Hong Kong Academy

Hong Kong Academy (HKA) exemplifies educational excellence by challenging, motivating and supporting each student to reach their fullest potential. HKA embraces diversity and recognises the individuality of each student and member of the community through collaboration, communication, and innovation. As part of the HKA Learner Support Programme, HKA’s English Language Learner (ELL) programme caters to students from non-English speaking backgrounds who are not yet proficient in the language of instruction.

teacher talking you young student
Photo courtesy Hong Kong Academy

HKA began its journey with WIDA in 2015 by introducing the WIDA Screener during the admissions process. Recognising the benefits of having a comprehensive picture of student learners through the lens of reading, writing, speaking and listening, we began to expand the use of WIDA MODEL. Leaders within the programme had the opportunity to receive training with Jon Nordmeyer in 2016 in a course entitled “Implementing WIDA Standards in Inclusive International Schools.” This training provided a pathway to meet the needs of our ELL student throughout the Primary and Secondary schools.

a woman and an older student talking in a classroom
Photo courtesy Hong Kong Academy

The partnership amongst our faculty and parent community has continued to grow as we have begun using WIDA MODEL as a tool to communicate student progress within language acquisition. HKA developed an individualised learning plan template based on the WIDA assessment feedback. The quantitative and qualitative feedback that was generated from working with WIDA MODEL allowed educators to be even more intentional about developing each student’s language acquisition skills. Faculty also worked collaboratively to use the WIDA English Language Development Framework to build our ELL programme from an instructional perspective. This powerful tool has transformed our language as educators to embrace the WIDA Can Do Philosophy, which explains how we might best support students linguistically and culturally by focusing on their assets. This approach has also supported our work with all students in our school, including those with learning differences, as we have embraced this philosophy and structure in all facets of our Learner Support programme. WIDA model has been invaluable as it has provided a structure that supports sustainability, implementation, and programming that addresses the needs of all learners within the learning community.

a teacher and a student working together at a table
Photo courtesy Hong Kong Academy

You are invited to visit the Hong Kong Academy this April when they host a Collaborative Conversation with WIDA and NFI. For details about this event, visit From Silos to Systems: Working Collaboratively for Learning Access.

School Website

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.