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 Standards can help you integrate language development and content learning appropriate to the grade level and 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 Lesson Delivery Best Practices

Educators use

  • Grade-level state content standards to determine unit plan goals and success criteria
  • WIDA standards to develop language objectives aligned with unit goals
  • Meaningful lessons focused on content area knowledge and skills as a context for language development
  • WIDA Standards Statements, Performance Definitions and the Features of Academic Language to learn more about the language of school


WIDA provides a variety of resources that help you understand how to use standards. For example, in the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, 2020 Edition 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, sentence and discourse. WIDA provides similar, but more age-appropriate resources for early language development. 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.

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

Early Language Development

A program for providing quality care and instruction to young multilingual children in ECE 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.

headshot of Gwendolyn

Gwendolyn Quadri

​“Interactive notebooks are the end product of my blended learning centers, and I incorporate the WIDA standards into how I plan the notebooks and how I assess my students’ progress. When I conference with my students, they know exactly what I’m looking for and how what they produce compares to what’s outlined in the WIDA rubrics.”

Gwendolyn Quadri, ESL specialist
Sanford, NC

Read more about Gwendolyn