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 early childhood programs and 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.

For educators and practitioners in early care and education (ECE) programs, WIDA offers Early Language Development Standards for both English and Spanish.

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, Performance Definitions and the Features of Academic Language to learn more about the language of school

Resources

WIDA provides a variety of resources that help you understand how to use the standards. For example, in the English Language Development Standards and 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, Spanish and Early Language Development Standards and related resources.

woman writing at blackboard

English Language Development Standards

These Standards represent the social, instructional and academic language students use in school.

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 Standards

A framework 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.

Featured Educator

headshot of abigail"I feel that WIDA’s standards are very clear. They’re easy to fit into lessons and help guide instruction. I also appreciate that the students are able to engage in a practice test before they actually take the ACCESS test."

Abigail Billman, ESL Teacher
Durham, North Carolina