Teaching with Standards

students crowded around teacher with booklet

The role of standards in K-12 instruction

WIDA understands that your instructional context is unique. For example, you might be teaching academic subjects with multilingual learners integrated into your classroom, or you might be collaborating as a content or language expert for your shared multilingual students. Regardless, the WIDA Language Development Standard Frameworks can help you integrate language development and content learning that is suitable to the grade level and the various English language proficiencies of your students.

The WIDA Standards

WIDA has established language development standards for English and Spanish. These standards represent the language students need to be successful in grades K-12.

The first standard, Social and Instructional Language, reflects the ways in which students interact socially to build community and establish working relationships with peers and teachers in ways that support learning.

The remaining four standards present ways multilingual learners can communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Planning and Delivering Units and Lessons with the WIDA Standards Framework

Educators use

  • Grade-level state content standards to determine unit plan goals and success criteria
  • The WIDA ELD Standards Framework to develop language objectives aligned with unit goals
  • Meaningful lessons focused on content area knowledge and skills as a context for language development


WIDA provides a variety of resources that help you understand how to use standards. For example, in the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework and WIDA Spanish Language Development Standards guides, WIDA provides examples of each standard within a classroom context and makes explicit connections to content standards.

In addition, language development is differentiated across six proficiency levels according to performance criteria using three dimensions of language: word/phrase, sentence and discourse. WIDA provides similar, but more age-appropriate resources for early-years students developing their language skills. This approach allows teachers to notice what students can do and to scaffold learning targets that support language growth.

See below for more on the English and Spanish Language Development Standards and related resources.

Related Pages

young students gathered around a globe

English Language Development Standards Framework

A framework that provides a foundation for curriculum, instruction and assessment for multilingual learners in kindergarten through grade 12.

older student raising hand at classroom table with two other students

Spanish Language Development Standards

These standards apply to students in grades PreK-12 whose home language and/or language of instruction is Spanish.

woman reading a book with young child

Teaching in PreK-3

A developmentally sound framework for providing quality care and instruction to young multilingual children in early care and education settings.

teacher at science table showing skeleton to students

Standards in Action

Classroom videos of innovative instruction that promotes English language development and content learning.