International FAQ Collection

  • Can you explain what WIDA is?
    WIDA is a research center at the University of Wisconsin. WIDA’s mission is to advance language development and academic achievement for linguistically diverse students through high quality standards, assessments, research, and professional development for educators.  Many international schools have discovered that using the WIDA resources can transform the way educators view academic language development and achievement for ELLs by focusing on what learners can do rather than what they can’t do. Here is an online tutorial WIDA English Language Development Standards.
  • What is the WIDA International School Consortium?
    WIDA International Schools Consortium is a global learning network of international schools that use WIDA's research-based standards and assessments. WIDA supports a growing consortium of over 200 international schools that have integrated WIDA English Language Development framework and assessments into their programs. These schools have access to WIDA assessment tools, receive research updates and can participate in reciprocal professional learning opportunities.
  • How can my school become a consortium member?
    You can purchase membership to our WIDA International School Consortium here. Here is a list of members. International Consortium membership includes access to the latest research and resources from WIDA, reciprocal global professional learning opportunities as well as discounts on all our products in the store, free access to the W-APT screener assessment and many other things. To learn more, visit this page: Members
  • Are there any required memberships to be able to use WIDA standards, practices, and assessment tools?
    As a member of the WIDA International School Consortium, you would have access to all the resources in the international WIDA Resource Library and would be able to use the WIDA MODEL assessment tool. The WIDA MODEL is available in both a paper version (for Grades K-12) and an online version (for Grades 1-12).
  • Is an annual or monthly payment required for using WIDA standards. practices and assessment tools?
    The membership is a yearly membership and costs $395. As a member, you would have free access to the W-APT screener and the other materials within the Resource Library. The MODEL assessment is available for purchase. The paper kit is $200 for the Kindergarten kit and $180 for the other grade cluster kits. The MODEL Online assessment is $128 for a set of 15 tests. You can see all of the products available for purchase in the WIDA Store.
  • As I understand from what I have read on your website, WIDA consortium members are widely from the United States but you also accept International Schools as consortium members. Is our international school also eligible to become a consortium member?
    We have the WIDA International School Consortium that is specifically for international schools. Yes, your school would be able to become a member.
  • Do students pay an individual exam fee for taking WIDA tests?
    Students do not pay to take the tests. Once the school purchases the tests they administer to the student. There should be no additional fee for a student.

    WIDA Standards and Assessment System

  • What is the WIDA Standards and Assessment System?
    Most international schools who contact us are pleased to learn that WIDA is more than just a test, and the components of the WIDA Framework work together to support both language learning and academic achievement. WIDA resources support a systemic approach to both collaboration and scaffolding based on students’ assets, as expressed in the WIDA Can Do Philosophy, and are built on the research-based WIDA Guiding Principles of Language Development. Since WIDA is a nonprofit research center based at a university, many WIDA resources are available as free PDF downloads in the WIDA Resource Library. Here is an overview of WIDA Standards and Assessment System
  • We are concerned that the standards are aligned to common core U.S. curriculum and may not be suitable for us in IB. Are there different standards for the international arena?
    We do have a publication which is available for sale which addresses this:
    https://www.wceps.org/store/wida/ProductDetails?ProductID=200&CategoryID=1 The WIDA English Language Development Standards and Resource Guide, International Edition is our 2012 Amplification of the English Language Development Standards in an international context. It includes connections to the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the International Baccalaureate Program.

    This publication was developed with input from a team of international educators. A key component of WIDA's mission is to promote educational equity and academic achievement for linguistically diverse students. The Resource Guide is designed as curriculum and instruction planning tools and also serve as the basis for formative and large-scale assessment.
  • What should we use for eligibility criteria for an EAL student entering or exiting an EAL program?
    It is recommended that WIDA English proficiency level is considered as only one criterion, within a body of evidence including teachers’ observations, achievement on content standards and work samples. Within each school, exit criteria can be set based on performance of students who had exited previously and successfully managed mainstream classes without EAL support in that particular school context. Below are some resources that you may consult; although this research includes recommendations based on US policy, there is relevant guidance for international schools as well.
    1. Shin (2017) The Effects of the Initial English Language Learner Classification on Students’ Later Academic Outcomes
    2. Umansky (2016) To Be or Not to Be EL: An Examination of the Impact of Classifying Students as English Learners
    3. Robert Linquanti (WestEd), and Gary Cook (WIDA) discuss issues and recommendations related to the 4-stage framework they developed to assist states in analyzing issues and strengthening policies and practices used in defining ELs. (Note the original links in the above document no longer work; they have been updated below).
  • In our school, we have English language learners that are not yet up to grade level standards. When it comes to giving them a "grade," they fall below the grade-level standard (Which means many C's and D's in social studies and English in particular). We are trying to adapt our grade 9 and 10 report cards. Do you have any ideas? Some people suggest calling a class EAL social studies, others say to give a pass or fail.
    Using standards-based assessment and reporting often allows teachers to identify in which standards students are doing well and where they are struggling - independent of language proficiency levels. Some schools use a designation of N/A or “Not Assessed Yet” for students below a certain proficiency level rather than Pass/Fail. In this case, it is critical to communicate the policy and intention to teachers, parents and students.

    It is important to consider how to differentiate assessment as well as instruction, so a content assessment doesn’t become a de–facto language assessment. However, in a system that gives cumulative averaged letter grades, an ungraded option may be more fair to students, and is particularly helpful if it is accompanied by a narrative. On the other hand, this may result in more teachers not assessing students, rather than figuring out how to differentiate the assessment.

    Margo Gottlieb WIDA Lead Developer and assessment researcher, shared this response: a student's language proficiency level should be considered in relation to his/her achievement when English is the medium of instruction; indeed, it's the language proficiency level that spurs the kinds of differentiation for instruction that are carried over to assessment. Grading, if necessary, should be based on standards, a student's goals towards reaching them, and actions taken from criterion-referenced feedback. Actually, ch. 8 of my new assessment book is devoted to this topic. (Corwin:Assessing English Language Learners: Bridges to Educational Equity: Connecting Academic Language Proficiency to Student Achievement)

    WIDA’s asset-based tools for measuring academic English language proficiency help teachers to see what students can do. This is essential for differentiating how students can engage in performance assessment tasks, even at very beginning levels of English proficiency. The WIDA Can Do Descriptors are intended to interpret assessment results by providing some examples of how students might participate meaningfully in any content area at each of WIDA’s six levels of proficiency.

  • WIDA Assessments


  • Why should we use WIDA assessments?
    We'd like to stress that WIDA offers valuable assessment tools, but the true utility of working with WIDA is enhanced when the school approaches it as a system. International schools have found that, since the WIDA assessments are aligned with WIDA’s other instructional resources, they support a collaborative approach to integrating language and content learning which includes co-planning, co-teaching and co-assessing.

    Should you join the WIDA International Consortium, you’ll have access to the W-APT screener assessment as a free download. It takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes (for reading, writing, speaking and listening) but you can administer listening, reading and writing in groups. Only the speaking component is given one-on-one. Most international schools use this as an admissions/entrance/placement assessment.

    The Online MODEL assessment can serve to monitor progress and help with decisions about ending EAL services. The time needed is about 1 hour and 40 minutes with only the writing component being given one-on-one. Also, the listening, reading and writing sections have audio prompts, so there is no need for a teacher to read a script. This reduces testing bias by standardizing assessment conditions. The listening and reading portions are scored automatically by the online interface. The test administrator assesses speaking while he/she gives the test. Writing is scored after the test has finished and takes between 15 and 20 minutes per student, depending on the test administrator’s familiarity with the scoring tool.

    All training materials (videos, test administrator manual, training PowerPoints, and student sample work) are available online and your teachers should be able to work with them to build inter-rater agreement.
  • What are the additional benefits for using WIDA assessments?
    WIDA’s asset-based tools for measuring academic English language proficiency help teachers to see what students can do. This is essential for differentiating how students can engage in performance assessment tasks, even at very beginning levels of English proficiency. The WIDA Can Do Descriptors are intended to interpret assessment results by providing some examples of how students might participate meaningfully in any content area at each of WIDA’s six levels of proficiency.
  • What is the difference between MODEL and ACCESS?
    MODEL was developed from the same testing specifications as ACCESS, and uses the same underlying scoring scales. The primary difference is availability, as ACCESS may not be administered outside of the U.S. for legal reasons.
  • Can non-WIDA members purchase MODEL online?
    International schools interested in purchasing WIDA MODEL Online must have a WIDA International Schools Consortium membership in order to purchase the assessment through the WIDA store.
  • Can anyone see the ACCESS test items?
    The ACCESS for ELLs test is a strictly secure test that only verified administrators who are members of the US Consortium can view; However, there are sample items that can be viewed.
  • What WIDA assessments can be used in international contexts?
    Most international schools use two WIDA English proficiency assessments: The W-APT (screener) and MODEL (summative). Most schools use the W-APT for admissions/placement and use MODEL for monitoring progress and ongoing placement/exit decisions. Both of these assessments are built on WIDA’s definition of Academic Language. The WIDA assessments are organized by grade cluster (Kindergarten, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12) and determine academic English proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening on a 6-point scale according to the WIDA Performance Definitions.
    • The W-APT is free to members of the WIDA International School Consortium. After joining, schools can download and print W-APT.
    • The cost of WIDA MODEL varies depending on format: paper-based or Online.
    • International schools have found that the since the WIDA assessments are aligned with WIDA’s other instructional resources, they support a collaborative approach to integrating language and content learning, which includes co-planning, co-teaching, and co-assessing. All WIDA assessments include similar items and align to the WIDA English Language Development Framework.
    For more information about cost and purchasing process WIDA assessments, please visit the WIDA Store.
  • Can we use ACCESS for ELLs 2.0 outside of the United States?
    At this time, we cannot offer ACCESS for ELLs to anyone outside of the U.S. WIDA Consortium; however, we do offer WIDA MODEL which you could use as an end-of-the-year assessment and/or a screener for your students. MODEL was developed from the same testing specifications as ACCESS for ELLs and uses the same underlying scoring scales. MODEL is aligned to the same research-based English Language Development Framework, so can be used with powerful tools such as the WIDA Can Do Descriptors.
  • How often should we give WIDA assessments to our students?
    W-APT (Screener) is designed to be given to students once as they enter a program for the first time. It is recommended that students take MODEL no more than twice in an academic year.
  • How long does it take to administer WIDA assessments?
    Administration time for W-APT is approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes (for reading, writing, speaking and listening) but listening, reading and writing can be administered to small groups. Only the speaking component is given one-on-one. Most international schools use W-APT as an admissions/entrance/placement assessment.

    MODEL administration time is about 1 hour and 40 minutes, with only the writing component being given one-on-one. The test administrator assesses speaking while he/she gives the test. Writing is scored after the test has finished and takes between 15 and 20 minutes per student, depending on the test administrator’s familiarity with the scoring tool. Additional writing and speaking samples are included with MODEL to help schools to build reliability and inter-rater agreement.
  • What is the difference between paper-based and Online MODEL assessments?
    The content of MODEL in either format is the same, except that Online MODEL has one additional Writing Task for each grade band. In Online MODEL, the listening, reading and writing sections have computer-based audio prompts, so teachers don’t need to read a script. This reduces testing bias by standardizing assessment conditions. The listening and reading portions are scored automatically by the online interface. All training materials (videos, test administrator manual, training PowerPoints, and student sample work) are included with both assessment formats; they are on a CD for the paper-based MODEL and part of the web-based Test Administrator Interface for Online MODEL.
  • How should WIDA be used to determine student admissions or placement?
    It is recommended that WIDA English proficiency level is considered as only one criterion, within a body of evidence including teachers’ observations, achievement on content standards and work samples. Within each school, exit criteria can be set based on performance of students who had exited previously and successfully managed mainstream classes without EAL support in that particular school context. Below are some resources that you may consult; although this research includes recommendations based on US policy, there is relevant guidance for international schools as well.
    1. Shin (2017) The Effects of the Initial English Language Learner Classification on Students’ Later Academic Outcomes
    2. Umansky (2016) To Be or Not to Be EL: An Examination of the Impact of Classifying Students as English Learners
    3. Robert Linquanti (WestEd), and Gary Cook (WIDA) discuss issues and recommendations related to the 4-stage framework they developed to assist states in analyzing issues and strengthening policies and practices used in defining ELs. (Note the original links in the above document no longer work; they have been updated below).
  • Can international schools use the new WIDA screener? What is its intended purpose?
    The new WIDA Screener is in the process of being adapted for the international school context. Training and delivery options for the Screener online should be released summer 2017. The new Screener will certainly meet the needs of international educators and will be a welcome, updated alternative to the W-APT. However, as the name suggests it is intended as a screener only - approximately one hour administration time for all four domains - so it won’t be an in-depth diagnostic test. It’s most useful as an initial tool to inform decisions about admissions and the appropriate level of support.
  • How often should we give MODEL?  What are some interim options?
    The WIDA MODEL assessment was designed to be administered no more than twice a year, so you could use it as a mid-year assessment. If you want an additional tool for interim purposes, you might want to consider creating speaking & writing prompts and scoring them with the WIDA Performance Definitions.
  • We would like to purchase the online WIDA test, but in China the internet is not reliable in that the government tends to block sites that are not Chinese. One way to get around this is to host software on our servers. Are we able to host the online version of the WIDA test on our servers?
    We do have WIDA materials available for purchase that can be sent to your school. The materials are only available to schools who are part of our Consortium. Here is more information about how to become part of our WIDA International School Consortium: https://wceps.org/WidaIntl

    If you have additional questions regarding the purchase of WIDA English Language Development frameworks and assessments, please contact our WIDA International School Consortium (WISC) at store@wceps.org or 877-272-5593 or fax 608-441-2769 to learn more.
  • We are considering replacing our current admission screening, Woodcock Munoz, for the Model Screener. We like the information that the Woodcock Munoz provides for analogies, comprehension, and vocabulary which is cognitive in nature. Does the Model Screener provide a cognitive component?
    To answer your question, the MODEL Screener is designed to identify students who may be candidates for ESL Services, determine the academic language proficiency level of new students, and guide instructional and curricular decisions while waiting for the ACCESS for ELLS score report.

    As such, it measures language proficiency using the language of Mathematics, Science, Social studies, and Language Arts, but it does not measure content knowledge in any of those areas. Therefore, the MODEL test doesn't really include vocabulary, analogies, or comprehension questions.
  • Can you tell me the average amount of time to take the full MODEL assessment?
    It could take a max of 2hrs and 40 minutes to administer all 4 domains to a student, but we would recommend a break in the middle. Below is a snippet from our FAQs on online MODEL here:

    test administration times

    You can learn more about MODEL here:
    (https://www.wceps.org/store/wida/ProductDetails?ProductID=208&CategoryID=16)
  • Can you provide an example of MODEL score interpretations?
    Please see a sample here.
  • We want to talk with someone about WIDA online. We currently have the WIDA boxes with the paper tests. What else do we need to do to give the test online? How many people do we need to train? How much will the online test cost? How long does the test take per student?
    You can purchase the online test via our online store. They cost $128 for 15 administrations (e.g. either 15 students once, 7 students twice with one remainder or any combination therein). The training for the online test is contained within the portal for the online assessment and it takes about the same time to administer as the paper version of MODEL. Also, you can train as many people as you would like. If you have any further questions, please contact our partner WCEPS (1-877-272-5593 | store@wceps.org) as they run our online store.
  • My school is interested in learning more about the WIDA assessment for EAL students. Is there anyone I can speak to regarding what I need to order to get started?
    Here are a few links for you to learn more about the WIDA MODEL. You can find the PDF sample of some MODEL components here. Below is other information we send to people that are inquiring about MODEL.

    WIDA MODEL can be used as an identification/placement assessment (screener) for newly enrolled ELLs or as an interim progress monitoring assessment. It's available for Grades K-12 in the paper version and for Grades 1-12 for the online version. There are no plans at this point to have the Kindergarten MODEL go online.

    MODEL assesses the four language domains: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The test items are written from the model performance indicators of WIDA's five English Language Proficiency (ELP) standards: Social & Instructional Language, Language of Language Arts, Language of Mathematics, Language of Science, and Language of Social Studies. You can read more about MODEL on the WIDA site at this link.

    We've put together a few short videos that should be very helpful:

    If you're interested in the online version of MODEL, this FAQ will also be helpful.

  • I will be administering the test to students grades 5-8. Some of these students are obviously much lower than their grade level would suggest, so I was wondering if the grade 5 test would be appropriate for a 5th grade student working at a 1st or 2nd grade level?
    Students should be assessed with the MODEL test designed for their grade band, so I’d recommend using the 3-5 test for your 5th graders. You could also use it for the 6th graders at the beginning of the year. Grade 6-8 MODEL should be used for your 7th and 8th graders.
  • How many times can one student take the online test? I know it can be administered anytime. But can students retake the test mid-way through the year to see how much progress they have made? Or do we have to purchase more “tests” to do this?
    We recommend that you use MODEL no more than 2 times per academic year, as there is only one set of test items for each grade-cluster. You can purchase the online test via our online store. They cost $128 for 15 administrations (e.g. either 15 students once, 7 students twice with one remainder or any combination therein).
  • We have recently become very interested in using the WIDA test at my school. Somebody who has previously used WIDA told be that it might be possible to get sample tests to try them and see if we would like to use them on a regular basis. Is this correct? If so, how does it work exactly? How many test copies could I possibly get?
    We offer a two-week trial account for MODEL Online for schools. This is so they can verify that the technology will work at their school and that it will meet their needs. They would need to contact us for more information. (The only sample tests we have are sample items, and test practice for ACCESS 2.0 NOT for W-APT or MODEL ).
  • Which would be better for us, W-APT, ACCESS 2.0 or MODEL?
    Currently ACCESS for ELLs is not available to anyone outside of the U.S. WIDA Consortium, but WIDA MODEL is available for anyone to purchase. It can be used for screening or assessing your students at the end of the school year or anytime in between; however, we do not recommend that you use MODEL more than 2 times per year because we only have one set of questions for each grade-cluster of MODEL (K,1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12). W-APT is only available to those in our consortia. Free access to W-APT (which is used to screen students once at the beginning of their academic career) is one of perks of joining the WIDA International School Consortium (WISC) among many others.
  • At the beginning of each year, why is it necessary to test the students with the WIDA Model of the grade-level below? This means that at the end of the year we are comparing the results of 2 different tests (esp. in Grade 1, as well as Grade 3) and student scores often 'go down'.
    The reasoning for administering the grade-level below at the beginning of the year is because students at the beginning of the year have not been exposed to the curriculum of the next grade and so it would be unfair, and unrealistic, to use the next grade-cluster to assess students’ ability.
  • We were wondering what test to give students who are in the first grade of each cluster, were we to test them mid-year. For example, if we want to test a 6th grade student at the beginning of the year, it is our understanding that we would give them the gr. 3-5 cluster. However, what about in December, in the middle of the year? I have looked at the timeline in the manual, but it’s not specific to this
    Any time during the first semester (or half) of the school year, the student would be given the grades 3-5 cluster. Once the halfway point passes or the semester ends, you would administer the grades 6-8 grade cluster to the sixth-grade student.
  • What grades are the WIDA MODEL online used for?
    Grades 1-12, clusters 1-5 and 6-12 are available via MODEL online. Kindergarten MODEL remains paper-based only.
  • When administering WIDA tests, can you break up the sections?
    While the suggestion is that the sections be administered together, you can break them up across several days if that works best for your students. For example, you can administer Speaking on Monday, Listening on Tuesday, and so on. You cannot, however, split a single domain over several days.
  • How are the WIDA [MODEL] and the W-APT aligned? (in the elementary school we base most of our placement decisions on ready and writing skills)
    W-APT and MODEL test forms align with the WIDA ELP Standards (i.e., Social and Instructional Language, Language of Language Arts, Language of Mathematics, Language of Science, and Language of Social Studies) and the WIDA Consortium’s approach to instructing and assessing English language learners in Grades K-12. The overall composite W-APT score can be used to determine students’ placement in the tier level of a test form of the ACCESS for ELLs test and/or students’ placement in ELL services. MODEL can be used to determine the academic English language proficiency level of students who are new to a school or to the U.S. school system and to identify and place students who are candidates for English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or bilingual services.
  • What are the international standards that WIDA is using to define/benchmark proficiency?  
    At the core of the WIDA Standards Framework are the Performance Definitions along with the Language Development Standards and their representative Matrices. The Performance Definitions delineate what the various levels of language proficiency look like, informed by the Features of Academic Language. Exemplifying the WIDA Can Do Philosophy Performance Dentitions Standards & their Matrices Guiding Principles of Language Development Developmentally Appropriate Academic Language in Sociocultural Contexts Exemplifying the WIDA Can Do Philosophy Performance Dentitions Standards & their Matrices Guiding Principles of Language Development Developmentally Appropriate Academic Language in Sociocultural Contexts WIDA Standards Framework via The Standards Matrices help educators envision what language development might look like in Pre K–12 classrooms scaffolded across levels of language proficiency within the five standards. These matrices are used in conjunction with the Performance Definitions to describe possible student trajectories for academic language development.
  • Which WIDA course/conference/workshop can you recommend for me? I have never used the WIDA Model tests before. I would be able to attend a conference in ASIA until June and in the US in the summer.

    Thank you for your interest in building capacity to use WIDA framework to serve ELLs at your school. A first step would be to visit the WIDA International School Consortium website. You may know that WIDA resources are used in many international schools, and there are now 200+ members in this global WIDA network. We send regular updates and a monthly newsletter for international consortium members to keep schools in touch with WIDA and with each other. You can find the previous newsletters archived here.

    It is helpful to understand that WIDA is more than an assessment. While we do provide several assessment tools for admissions, placement, exit and monitoring progress, most schools find the value added by these resources is in the systemic implementation of the WIDA English Language Development Framework. The WIDA Comprehensive System explains this whole-school approach to serving ELLs.

    We can provide customized training in your school, and we have two open-enrollment options for professional learning: the WIDA Institute and the WIDA Symposium. Here is some more background:

    The WIDA Institute is a four-day introduction to WIDA.

    The Institute focuses on building foundational knowledge by connecting WIDA tools within the WIDA English Language Development framework.

    The Institute explains how the WIDA Comprehensive System approach can serve ELLs and in particular, how the WIDA assessment tools connect to the WIDA framework.

    Facilitators also the WIDA Essential Actions to guide the classroom application of WIDA resources.

    The Institute follows an experiential workshop format, with the WIDA facilitators primarily building skills and knowledge; participants also have the chance to learn from educators at other schools.

    The WIDA Symposium is a two-day forum for innovation designed for educators already familiar with WIDA.

    The Symposium brings together educators from around the region to deepen their understanding of WIDA resources with a focus on implementation. Teachers will share how they have used WIDA for assessment, instruction and curriculum development while exploring common challenges together.

    We co-construct the Symposium agenda based on the needs of the group and support learning by sharing resources developed by subject matter experts here at WIDA. Should you send a team to the Symposium, you’d participate in this shared process and learn not only from the WIDA facilitators but also from other international schools.

    The Symposium follows a more participatory format, with WIDA facilitators sharing ideas but also showcasing promising school-based practices and intentionally structuring school-to-school dialogue.

    WIDA customized training is another option.

    • Many schools request a workshop to be adapted from the menu of professional learning options.
    • We would conduct a need of assessment to establish specific professional learning objectives.
    • We charge $3500/day plus travel and expenses; this price includes 2-3 follow up virtual coaching sessions via phone or Skype to scaffold and sustain implementation.
    • The design of the training is built around the needs and schedule of your staff. The length of training would depend on the needs of your professional learning objectives.
    • This training would be differentiated and could accommodate a variety of groups (e.g. your EAL team, the entire faculty, one division or department).

    I think any of these options could serve your needs but each offers different benefits. On-site, customized professional learning in your school would be targeted to your individual needs and could involve your entire staff. The Symposium (and to some extent the Institute) would allow you to learn from educators in other schools. The Institute would provide a more systematic approach to first steps (beyond just using the assessments). The Symposium would consider next steps, with many options shared across different contexts. One other aspect to consider is timing: the Symposium and Institute dates are already established; we would need to find dates for site-based workshops that would work for both your school and a WIDA facilitator.

    We’ve had several teachers do both: first the WIDA Institute and then the WIDA Symposium weekend. Teachers have found this sequence to be especially helpful, and in fact, the Symposium was created because teachers who attended the Institute wanted a next step for both learning and networking. We’ve also found that school-based team have benefitted from attending the Institute or Symposium together. If you can’t attend both:

    - If you want a solid foundation for building capacity and creating systems to serve ELLs with WIDA resources at your school, choose an Institute.

    - If you have processes or tools that you want to share with others, while learning how other schools use WIDA resources, choose a Symposium.

  • What is the difference between an Institute and a Symposium?
    Thank you for your interest in building capacity to use WIDA framework to serve ELLs at your school. I think you could attend either the WIDA Symposium or Institute in Bangkok, our two open-enrollment options for professional learning.

    Here are a few things to consider: The WIDA Institute is a four-day introduction to WIDA.
    • The Institute focuses on building foundational knowledge by connecting WIDA tools within the WIDA English Language Development framework.
    • The Institute uses this document to explain how WIDA supports a systemic approach to serving ELLs and in particular, how the WIDA assessment tools connect to the WIDA framework.
    • Facilitators also the WIDA Essential Actions to guide the classroom application of WIDA resources.
    • The Institute follows an experiential workshop format, with the WIDA facilitators primarily building skills and knowledge; participants also have the chance to learn from educators at other schools.
    The WIDA Symposium is a two-day forum for innovation designed for educators already familiar with WIDA.
    • The Symposium brings together educators from around the region to deepen their understanding of WIDA resources with a focus on implementation. Teachers will share how they have used WIDA for assessment, instruction and curriculum development while exploring common challenges together.
    • We co-construct the Symposium agenda based on the needs of the group and support learning by sharing resources developed by subject matter experts here at WIDA. Should you send a team to the Symposium, you’d participate in this shared process and learn not only from the WIDA facilitators but also from other international schools.
    • The Symposium follows a more participatory format, with WIDA facilitators sharing ideas but also showcasing promising school-based practices and intentionally structuring school-to-school dialogue.

    I think either of these options could serve your needs but each offers different benefits. The Symposium (and to some extent the Institute) would allow you to learn from educators in other schools. The Institute would provide a more systematic approach to first steps (beyond just using the assessments). The Symposium would consider next steps, with many options shared across different contexts. A recent WIDA International newsletter highlighted the difference between the Institute and Symposium – here is a link if you have not seen it yet. I’m also attaching an article about the recent WIDA Symposium in Dubai.

    We’ve had several teachers do both: first the WIDA Institute and then the WIDA Symposium weekend. Teachers have found this sequence to be especially helpful, and in fact, the Symposium was created because teachers who attended the Institute wanted a next step for both learning and networking. We’ve also found that school-based team have benefitted from attending the Institute or Symposium together. If you can’t attend both:
    • If you want a solid foundation for building capacity and creating systems to serve ELLs with WIDA resources at your school, choose an Institute.
    • If you have processes or tools that you want to share with others, while learning how other schools use WIDA resources, choose a Symposium.


    It may also be useful to visit the WIDA International School Consortium website. You may know that WIDA resources are used in many international schools, and there are now 200+ members in this global WIDA network. We send regular updates and a monthly newsletter for international consortium members to keep schools in touch with WIDA and with each other.
  • How can I learn more about WIDA?
    There are two open-enrollment professional learning options for international educators:
    • The WIDA Institute is a first step to using WIDA as a system. The four-day Institute provides an in-depth introduction to the WIDA English Language Development Framework. We focus on these two resources:
    • WIDA Standards and Assessment System
    • WIDA Essential Actions Handbook
    • The WIDA Symposium considers next steps in building school-wide capacity, and was designed for educators who have already used WIDA to deepen their understanding with a focus on implementation The Symposium was created because teachers who attended the Institute wanted a next step for both learning and networking. At the Symposium, educators share how they have used WIDA for assessment, instruction, curriculum development, and explore common challenges together.
    We have heard that school-based teams have benefitted from attending these professional learning events together to build capacity and plan for school-wide implementation.

    See our Professional Learning page for all WIDA Institute and WIDA Symposium dates and locations. WIDA also regularly presents at regional international school conferences. These opportunities include full-day preconference sessions, hands-on workshop sessions or panel discussions. School-based, customized professional learning is also available. Please contact pdinfo@wida.us with this request.