WIDA MODEL Online scale scores linked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

Participants in the linking study holding bookmarks used to link MODEL Online to the CEFR.
Participants in the linking study holding bookmarks used to link MODEL Online to the CEFR.
December 8, 2023

In January 2023, WIDA researchers and international educators collaborated to link WIDA MODEL Online scale scores to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).  WIDA analyzed the results and published the findings. Educators can now understand their students’ MODEL Online scale scores in terms of the CEFR levels, which are meaningful worldwide.


The CEFR is published by the Council of Europe and is an international standard for describing language proficiency in many languages, including English. Schools and organizations around the world use the CEFR for teaching, learning and assessment, and it is also commonly used by language educators, curriculum designers and agencies working in the field of language development.

The six main CEFR levels — A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 — feature descriptors for listening, speaking, reading and writing that describe what a user can do at each level. In 2018, the Council of Europe released sets of supplementary descriptors specific to young learners. These descriptors are designed to be relevant to young learners in two age groups: (1) ages 7-10 and (2) ages 11-15. WIDA used a relevant subset of these descriptors to link MODEL Online to the CEFR.

The linking study

A linking study, or standard setting, relies on expert judgments about which test scores, in this case scale scores, are associated with different levels of proficiency. The result of a standard setting is a set of recommended minimum score requirements, or cut scores, for each level.

WIDA recruited 20 international expert educators to participate in the linking study. They were invited to participate based on their self-reported experience using MODEL Online and familiarity with the CEFR. In January 2023, these educators traveled to Madrid, Spain, for an in-person meeting with WIDA researchers where they used their experience working with multilingual learners, their familiarity with the CEFR and their familiarity with MODEL Online to recommend MODEL Online cut scores for each CEFR level (pre-A1, A1, A2, B1, B2 and C1) and language domain.

WIDA relied on a combination of standard setting methodologies to conduct the linking study and determine educators’ cut score recommendations. In breakout groups specific to the four MODEL Online grade-level clusters (1-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12), educators evaluated MODEL Online test content and students’ Speaking and Writing test responses against the CEFR descriptors for young learners. Based on educators’ evaluations and iterative discussions, each group recommended CEFR-level cut scores for each language domain. To complete the standard setting, WIDA then analyzed the results to determine the MODEL Online scale score ranges associated with each CEFR level.

You can read more about the linking study, the results and procedures used in the WIDA Research Report, Linking Scores from WIDA MODEL Online to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Understanding MODEL Online scale scores in terms of CEFR levels

The results of the study suggest that MODEL Online measures language proficiency up to the B1/B2 level for grades 1-2, up to the B2 level for grades 3-5, up to the B2/C1 level for grades 6-8 and up to the C1 level for grades 9-12.

Use the Understanding WIDA MODEL Online Scale Scores in Terms of CEFR Levels tool to look up the CEFR levels that correspond to students’ scale scores in Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. To hear more from WIDA researchers, watch this short video about the study, and how to use the MODEL-CEFR concordance tables.

Find a full transcript of this video in the Resource Library.

This new understanding of the relationship between MODEL Online and the CEFR will provide teachers, families and students with valuable information about students’ language abilities, and will help educators make meaningful connections between MODEL Online scale scores and other aspects of their work.


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