Ask Fatima: WIDA International School Consortium transition

This month, Fatima answers questions about the transition of the WIDA International School Consortium to a new research-focused center, the Multilingual Learning Research Center, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

WIDA International School Consortium is transitioning to a new research-focused center, the Multilingual Learning Research Center, at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

What’s the difference between the MRLC and WIDA?

Both WIDA and the Multilingual Learning Research Center (MLRC) are part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. WIDA and the MLRC are, however, separate entities within a vibrant research center, the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

WIDA offers a comprehensive, research-based system of language standards, assessments, professional learning and educator support. After the transition on July 1, international schools can continue to use WIDA assessments, WIDA language development standards and other resources, like the WIDA Can Do Descriptors. The WIDA Annual Conference will also continue to be the premier event for educators of Pre-K through grade 12 multilingual learners, giving educators from around the globe the opportunity to share best practices and discover innovative classroom strategies.

As a global research center, the MLRC will extend the current work of the WIDA International Programs by studying important questions about teaching and learning in a variety of contexts and engaging in interdisciplinary research that is both quantitative and qualitative in nature. Starting July 1, the MLRC will offer membership in a new global research-practice partnership: the MLRC School Network, a community organized around current research to improve schoolwide approaches. MLRC School Network members will also have unlimited access to a variety of learning resources including the WIDA Virtual Institute.

Why should we join the MLRC School Network?

The MLRC School Network will serve as a global research-practice partnership for international schools committed to improving outcomes for multilingual learners. A research-practice partnership is a collaborative, long-term relationship between researchers and practitioners designed to improve pressing shared problems. MLRC members will have opportunities for dialogue focused on what matters to international schools as well as collaborative research to study common problems of practice in teaching multilingual learners. The MLRC School Network will promote collaboration both within and across schools.

What are the benefits of MLRC School Network membership?

MLRC annual membership includes the following benefits:

  • Access to an online MLRC School Network Hub which will feature
    • A WIDA Toolkit including learning resources focused on using WIDA resources in international contexts, including videos currently offered in the WIDA International Secure Portal
    • Unlimited staff enrollment in the WIDA Virtual Institute, an introduction to how assessments and standards can be used together (previously offered at an additional cost of $550 per educator)
    • Opportunities to engage with other educators through online discussion organized around key MLRC research topics
    • School improvement tools to enhance programs that serve multilingual learners including guided inquiry into school-based problems of practice (this is the next iteration of the WIDA Global Community of Practice that was previously offered at an additional cost of $350 per educator)
    • Expanded offering of curated research summaries and conference recordings
  • MLRC webinars showcasing global scholars and the research findings of the MLRC
  • Opportunities to participate in new research conducted in international contexts to advance outcomes for multilingual learners

Will the WIDA International Secure Portal be available after June 30?

The WIDA International Secure Portal will be retired on June 30, 2023. However, MLRC member schools will have access to the MLRC School Network Hub. The Hub will include a WIDA Toolkit, WIDA Virtual Institute course, videos and other resources currently available in the WIDA International Secure Portal. The Hub will also include new research-focused resources such as curated literature reviews that provide network members with cutting-edge findings on issues that impact multilingual learners.

Can we still enroll in the WIDA Virtual Institute?

Enrollment will be unavailable May 2-June 30 during the transition to the MLRC. Starting July 1, members of the MLRC School Network will have unlimited access to Virtual Institute at no additional cost.

We are a WIDA International School Consortium member, can we still purchase assessments and resources from the WIDA Store?

Yes, international schools may purchase WIDA assessments and resources now and after July 1 through the WIDA Store.

If our membership expires after July 1, do we get a refund or credit?

We will be coordinating with WIDA International School Consortium member schools in the next month about how they can use their current WIDA membership to join the new MLRC School Network. WIDA member schools with active membership extending past July 1 will be offered the opportunity to join the MLRC School Network at a special first-year rate. If schools choose not to join the MLRC, they will receive a number of WIDA MODEL Online administrations based on the remaining number of months of membership. Specific details will be communicated to each of these schools in May. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to with additional questions.

How do we join the MLRC School Network?

The MLRC School Network annual membership will extend from January 1 to December 31 each year. To celebrate its inaugural year, the MLRC is offering a membership incentive to schools who join early. Schools that join between July 1, 2023 and October 1, 2023 will receive membership valid through December 31, 2024. These schools would get up to 18 months of membership for the 12-month fee.

How much does it cost to join the MLRC School Network?

The annual membership fee for the MLRC School Network will vary based on school enrollment and pricing is available on the MLRC website.

How can we learn more about the MLRC?

Visit the new MLRC website. Be sure to complete the Contact Us form in order to receive news and updates about the MLRC.

To stay informed about WIDA news and events beyond this transition, sign up to receive WIDA News.

In case you missed it

The March edition of Ask Fatima included additional questions and answers about the transition.

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WIDA in Global Contexts

Learn how WIDA serves multilingual students, and how educators around the world use WIDA to improve teaching and learning.