Why did you start using WIDA?
Initially, we were most concerned with refining the assessment tools we were using to evaluate English language proficiency. WIDA stood out to us because, more than just an assessment, we found that we could use the tools to design instruction and set language objectives for our learners. Over many years we've moved towards alignment across divisions. Although we still have work to do, our team members are engaging in student centered conversations, participating in norming as we look at student work and speaking samples, and utilizing the tools for conversations with colleagues and parents.
How has it supported student learning and program growth?
"Before I had my WIDA training, I did not have a good tool or a strategy to analyze, measure and specifically teach speaking. I knew that the ability to speak English for academic purposes wasn't just going to happen on its own. I also knew what good speaking sounded like. However, I did not know how to interpret speaking samples and set specific goals for improvement. In my brain, the word 'rubric' has always been associated with something daunting, until the day I realized that WIDA Speaking and Writing rubrics were more than just rubrics. The three dimensions (discourse, sentence, word/phrase) and six proficiency levels, which WIDA uses to describe various aspects of spoken and written language, guide me on a daily basis in examining student speaking and writing samples and help me set specific goals to enhance their oral and written language development. Whether in ESL pull-out class or during Social Studies push-in, I am constantly focused on the following: 'How connected are his ideas? How varied are his sentence patterns? How smooth is the flow? How specific are his word choices and how they fit with the context?" – Stella Cornell
"I like the fact that WIDA is focused on what students can do. In addition to giving students, teachers, and parents a road-map of where students should be headed next, it also lets everyone know where they currently are on their journey. It aids in providing just the right amount of challenge for each student as he/she grows and develops." – Amy Zimmer
"Hosting the WIDA Symposium was an excellent way for Nido to launch the use of WIDA tools for use in our division and across the school. WIDA assessments and rubrics have proven to be essential tools in our work to creating a more systematic approach to how Nido identifies, instructs, and equips students for success in language and content learning." – Jon Penhollow
"In addition to informing my own ESL instruction, the WIDA tools provide a platform for conversations with classroom teachers and parents in elementary school. I can use the Can-Do Descriptors to help teachers better understand how to adapt instructions, assignments, and assessments for their English learners, and I can share the Speaking and Writing Rubrics to promote explicit language instruction across the content areas. Parents appreciate an explanation of the WIDA English Development Levels so they can support their children at home with reasonable expectations. When we work as a team using a common understanding of language acquisition, we can better serve our students in their language-learning journey." – Sharon Dent