Why did you start using WIDA?
The International Community School (ICS) uses Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to work as a community to address students’ learning needs and environment. We gather evidence of the student’s current learning, we develop strategies and ideas to build on their strengths, we analyze whether these strategies are working or not, and we give those that are learning opportunities to continue to improve. The WIDA program supports our ideology as a PLC school.
ICS started using WIDA tools in 2013. EAL teachers were using the W-APT for placement and to see where the student level began in English. Our school became full WIDA members in 2014. Since then we have continued to use the W-APT for placement, and we have been using the MODEL assessment in all grade levels. ICS has made a point to hire EAL teachers who know the WIDA system.
How has WIDA supported learning and program growth?
ICS is also an inclusive school, which means we don’t turn anyone away. Our EAL teachers work within our Student Support Team structure and collaborate with mainstream classroom teachers. We use the Response to Intervention model to provide services to students across our campus. Collaboration and communication are essential to our program and students’ success.
Currently, we are implementing the action steps that WIDA proposes to provide equity in service for ELLs. We are also developing strategies to use WIDA data with classroom teachers so Key Uses and Can Do Descriptors can help guide instruction. Our program is highly successful and 80% of our entry students with little to no English achieve monitor status within two years. (Monitor Status is determined by WIDA scores. Students scoring a 4 in all areas of the WIDA are placed on Monitor Status) Our next steps are to evaluate our program on the WIDA action steps to best determine our program goals and objectives for the upcoming years.