Ask Fatima: What Are WIDA Can Do Student Portraits?

This month Fatima answers questions about WIDA Can Do Student Portraits. A WIDA Can Do Student Portrait is a written or electronic document that focuses on a student’s strengths with specific information about the learner’s educational background, languages, family, interests – in addition to what the student can do in English with information from the WIDA Can Do Descriptors and Proficiency Level Descriptors.

Can Do Student Portraits build on WIDA Guiding Principle #1: Multilingual learners’ languages and cultures are valuable resources to be leveraged for schooling and classroom life; leveraging these assets and challenging biases help develop learners’ independence and encourage their agency in learning (Little, Dam, & Legenhausen, 2017; Moll, Amanti, Neff, & González, 1992; Nieto & Bode, 2018; Perley, 2011).

  • A portrait should be
    • Asset-based
    • Easy to update
    • Easy to share
    • Easy to keep confidential
  • You might use information from:
    • Classroom observations
    • Home language surveys
    • Formative language assessments
    • School Assessment data (WIDA, MAP, KET, PET, etc.)
    • Student surveys or interviews
    • Parent-teacher meetings
    • Teacher feedback
  • Examples of asset-based sentence starters
    • NAME enjoys...
    • NAME can...
    • NAME is passionate about...
    • NAME is interested in...
    • NAME is aspiring to...
    • NAME is determined to...

See the sample student portrait including key elements: student photo, WIDA scores, student background and interests.

When can I use Student Portraits?

Drawing of person handing a picture to someone elseBeginning of the year: Meet with colleagues to share what multilingual learners can do.



drawing of a girlBeginning of a new unit: Review student interests, abilities and experience to scaffold learning and build on student backgrounds.



Drawing of many faces surrounded by arrowsEnd of the year: Share student assets with colleagues in the next grade level to facilitate class placement and a smooth transition.



How can learn more about WIDA Can Do Student Portraits?

  • Explore the eLearning module: “Engaging ELLs: Teaching to Student Strengths” on the WIDA International Secure Portal.
  • Participate in a WIDA Institute or WIDA Virtual Institute (available winter 2020).