Focus school: Western International School of Shanghai
Read about Western International School of Shanghai and its staff’s journey implementing WIDA resources and assessments while celebrating student learning.
The Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) is the only full continuum IB World School in mainland China delivering all four programmes of the International Baccalaureate (IB): the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), and the Career-related Programme (CP).
WISS, as a community of learners, is committed to pedagogies based on current research and practices in education. From its inaugural year in 2006, WISS has been an environment where the importance of students’ first language as being vital to developing English skills and deepening conceptual understandings has been central to classroom practices. Previously, whilst much hard work went in to creating ‘in-house’ English language assessments, there was a desire to move towards a systematic form of assessment that would provide specific data in the four language domains. This aspiration to improve upon our practices and systems led us to WIDA.
Our introduction to WIDA started with the EAL team attending a WIDA Symposium in Bangkok, in 2016, that focused on an introduction to the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework and WIDA MODEL assessment for EAL students. We did an introduction to WIDA via a whole PYP session soon after attending the Symposium. The head of EAL introduces all new PYP staff members to WIDA Performance Definitions and Can Do Descriptors at the start of each academic school year during orientation. Our initial use of the WIDA MODEL assessment was to ascertain which students would attend our English for Beginners classes and which students would be in receipt of push-in support within their homeroom classes. The EAL team tested all students, from kindergarten to grade 5, who had English as a second or other language. This enabled us to have data for all language domains and to see the range of English proficiency levels.