Written by Elementary & Secondary EAL Teams
Tashkent International School (TIS) is a dynamic international school with a current enrolment of 515 students. Located in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, TIS is an IB World School offering the Primary Years Programme (PYP), Middle Years Programme (MYP) and Diploma Programme (DP). Established in 1994 by five embassies, as a non-profit institution, TIS serves the needs of the international population, including children of expatriate business people, non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic communities. TIS values all backgrounds, home languages and personal learning styles of its diverse student population.
How/why did you start using WIDA?
The Elementary School EAL department started using WIDA approximately six years ago. At the time, there was no other test used to identify and/or determine the students' English proficiency levels. Since then, WIDA tools have been used to assess and monitor students' progress. In the Secondary School, WIDA Model Online tests have been used since August 2016, which streamlined and facilitated transitions. Also in 2016, the school became a member of the WIDA International Consortium.
- The use of the WIDA assessment tools made it possible for both Elementary & Secondary EAL departments to:
- Identify students requiring English language learning support through the use of both the Screener and Summative assessments.
- Better understand student achievement results by consulting various documents such as WIDA Can Do Descriptors and WIDA Key Uses.
- Establish criteria to use the student results as an additional data point to help us make decisions in terms of EAL support classes needed, movement from one level to the next, and exit from EAL.
- Communicate with various other international schools using the same tools to share ideas and information.
How has it supported student learning and program growth?
In Elementary School, the WIDA tools have helped teachers place students in the most appropriate English proficiency group: beginner, intermediate, or monitoring. During the assessment, teachers are able to notice other factors that may affect the results, such as students' thinking pace, his or her use of reading strategies, as well as other patterns of behaviour that are not evident in the overall score. The Can Do descriptors have helped teachers to develop exit criteria and to collaborate with homeroom and specialist teachers to support the learners' academic language development and therefore contribute to their academic success. Additionally, WIDA's Language Development Standards align well with the IB PYP framework, as they both take into consideration the individual's unique culture, skills and linguistic prior knowledge.
As IB MYP school, TIS secondary school EAL teachers use the MYP Language Acquisition course phase assessment criteria. The MYP Language Acquisition course is conceptual in nature and linguistically appropriate for the phase level. It is designed to enable students to become multiliterate by developing their oral, visual and written literacies in a particular foreign language. WIDA focuses on the development of the students' academic language. However, teachers tried to identify similarities between the MYP LA and WIDA framework and descriptors to plan the best program for their students.
WIDA MODEL Online assessment tools have been used to determine students' proficiency levels for the last two years. EAL teachers have used WIDA MODEL tests for initial MYP phase placement of students and for assessing growth in the four domains. The WIDA results are one set of data considered when planning a student's program, or when deciding whether or not a student is ready to move into MYP Language & Literature. Other data considered are MAP results, MYP subject achievement levels, subject area teacher feedback, as well as EAL teacher feedback and anecdotal records. At times, other reading tests have been administered to gain more information.
EAL teachers have considered more carefully the assessment criteria for the MYP subject areas, such as Science, Individual & Societies, Language & Literature, Math, Design, in order to identify the area(s) needing most focus on academic language development. For example, students writing an assessment focusing on MYP criterion 'Knowing and Understanding' may require different support as those writing an assessment for MYP criteria 'Evaluating' or 'Thinking Critically.'
Using WIDA resources to better understand language development, EAL teachers at TIS have collaborated with the subject area teachers to equip them with resources and tools to support their linguistically and culturally diverse learners, thus focusing attention on expanding students' academic language and success.