Can Do Descriptors

younger children at science lab table

A tool to help you meet students where they are in their language development

The Can Do Descriptors highlight what language learners can do at various stages of language development as they engage in the following contexts:

  • Bilingual and English-immersion early care and education programs
  • Bilingual, Spanish-immersion and English-immersion K-12 language programs
  • Bilingual, Spanish-immersion and English-immersion K-12 content-area classrooms

Similar to the WIDA English Language Development Standards Statements, the Can Do Descriptors describe what learners can do with language across different content areas. Although the Can Do Descriptors relate to the ELD Standards Statements, they don’t replace them but are used to supplement the standards statements during instruction.

Educators and early childhood practitioners can use the Can Do Descriptors to

  • Better understand what students at different levels of language proficiency can do with language
  • Expand their understanding of what the process of language development can look like
  • Collaborate around scaffolding that students need to engage in content-area learning and develop language at the same time
  • Differentiate instruction and classroom assessment for language
  • Interpret ACCESS for ELLs test scores

Can Do Descriptors and the WIDA ELD Standards Framework, 2020 Edition

The Can Do Descriptors have not yet been updated to reflect the 2020 Edition; however, they remain available as a valuable tool for communicating with stakeholders about what students can do at each language proficiency level. WIDA is monitoring educator use to help inform the timing for updating the materials.

K-12 Can Do Descriptors, Key Uses Edition

This edition is organized around four overarching communicative purposes called Key Uses: Recount, Explain, Argue, Discuss.

The Descriptors are organized by the following grade level clusters, corresponding with ACCESS for ELLs and WIDA Screener.

To purchase copies of the K-12 Can Do Descriptors, Key Uses Edition that are color printed and bound, visit the WIDA Store.

Early Years Can Do Descriptors

The Early Years Can Do Descriptors provide examples of language use for three overarching communicative purposes: Express Self, Recount, Inquire (for receptive and expressive language domains).

They are organized by the following age clusters: 2.5-3.5, 3.5-4.5, 4.5-5.5

To purchase copies of the Early Years Can Do Descriptors that are color printed and bound, visit the WIDA Store.

Los descriptores Podemos

Los descriptores Podemos ofrecen ejemplos de lo que los hablantes del español podemos realizar en cada uno de los niveles de desempeño lingüístico.

Características de los descriptores Podemos:

  • Proporcionan ejemplos del uso del lenguaje para cuatro propósitos académicos: Relatar, Explicar, Argumentar y Discutir
  • Ofrecen ejemplos para seis diferentes niveles de desempeño lingüístico
  • Presentan ejemplos en cuatro modalidades del lenguaje: escuchar, hablar, leer y escribir
  • Incluyen ejemplos para kínder, primer grado y grados combinados 2-3, 4-5, 6-8 y 9-12

Los Podemos apoyan la colaboración entre educadores en la creación y el diseño de ambientes de aprendizaje que favorecen el desarrollo del lenguaje de los estudiantes bilingües con el fin de permitirles mostrar lo que saben y lo que pueden hacer.

Para comprar copias a color y ensambladas de los descriptores Podemos, visite la WIDA Store.

Can Do Descriptors, Original Edition

This original version does not use the Key Uses as the organizing feature. Instead, it is organized by language domains: Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing, and by the following grade level clusters: PreK-K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12.