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WIDA model as standardized assessment tool


WIDAmodel as standardized assessment tool

Standardizedtests during learning have become critical in assessing the level ofunderstanding of learners. With different IQ (intelligence quotient)levels and ability of learning, it is important for an educator tohave an access to these tools in ensuring that no child has been leftbehind during learning. As a kindergarten teacher in a privatebilingual, teaching internationally ESL students requiresstandardized assessments in gauging the level of understanding forthe learners. WIDA model (Measure for Developing English Language) isone of such standardized assessment tests that is applicable in myfield in assessing the level of understanding for Kindergartenlearners (Cloud, 2011). This paper seeks to describe the WIDA modelin an aim of gaining an understanding of its usage, reliability, andeffectiveness in teaching international ESL students in Kindergarten.


TheWIDA model is a chain of proficiency tests and assessments fromkindergarten up to grade 12. This method is usually used by educatorsan assessment method for new learners in ESL or for learners inprogress. Unlike other standardized tests such as ACCESS or W-APT,WIDA is accessible to nations outside the US. The WIDA model camealong with the Kindergarten assessment in 2008 (Damen,2007).By 2011, the series of the WIDA model had already been completed upto grade 12. This chain was developed with the help of CAL (centerfor applied linguistics) and each parameter was carefully reviewedand tested in ensuring that the model serves the intended purpose atits best (Collier, 2007).


Inthe WIDA model, items are designed in such a way that they indicatethe standards for assessing proficiency in English proficiency. Thestandards include:-

  • Arts

  • Mathematics

  • Science

  • Social studies

  • Social and study language

Withthese form of standards, the forms are divided into five gradesnamely, kindergarten, Grades 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12 (Collier, 1995).With these forms, the tests undertaken are in four main groups ofwriting, listening, reading, and speaking. Based on the student`sperformance, the tests are placed on various sections that areusually determined by the educator (Cummins,2008).


TheWIDA model is available in various parts outside the US with its costbeing made in US$ for both the consortium and non-consortium members.The model is available in a single kit or double kit where educatorsare at will to choose the best kit for their learners based on thebudget of their department and the level of the learners (Espinosa,2010). The table below shows the cost that each gradewill have for both single and double kits.


Single Kit

Double Kit


25 response material and one set of educator materials


50 response material for learners and two sets of educator materials



30 response material and one set of educator materials


60 response material for learners and two sets of educator materials



30 response material and one set of educator materials


60 response material for learners and two sets of educator materials



30 response material and one set of educator materials


60 response material for learners and two sets of educator materials



30 response material and one set of educator materials


60 response material for learners and two sets of educator materials


Fromthese rates, there is a special discount for all consortium members.When an educator requires any extra material or replacement, theinstitution will have to buy them separately with specific ratesdepending on the grade level (Brown, 2007).


Flexibilityof the educator, school, district, or any other stakeholder in thelesson determines the best time at which the standardized assessmentscan be done (Freeman, 2012). The major purposes of this mode includebut not limited to:-

  1. Identification of candidates among the ESL students

  2. Helps in determining how proficient a student is when entering a new school or new to the schools in the US.

  3. Place students in the right level of study and support when learning English as a second language.

  4. Helps in making decisions on what needs to be changed in the instructional environment in regard to the learning of the students

  5. The model helps in placement of students in other instructional tools such as ACCESS for ELLs (English Language learners), which is also used as a tool in assessing the learning of the students.

  6. The WIDA model helps in creation of curricular amendments and decisions for students even after they have completed their level.

Educatorsare usually advised to take 1.5 hours in maximum in undertaking theassessment for grade 1-12 learners. Kindergarten educators areadvised to take at most 45 minutes due to the age and level ofunderstanding for kindergarten learners (Cummins,2008).


Fromits description of the features of this model, the WIDA model is areliable tool in an instructional environment that can positivelyeffectively influence learning of students. With its diversity fromkindergarten to grade 12, it is possible for an educator to plan onthe best approach on which he or she can teach ESL learners inimproving proficiency level for such learners (Bailey, 2007).Additionally, the assessment tool is an effective tool that can beused in determining how institutions can adapt their form of studyingfor their ESL students from kindergarten to grade 12 (Halliday,2011). Since the assessment tool has been designed for educators fromall over the world, it is possible for institutions to match theircurriculum in respect to the features contained in the model.Therefore, the WIDA model does not serve a sole purpose of assessingthe proficiency level of students but also serves a purpose ofgauging the effectiveness of the methods of learning used by theeducator. Therefore, the WIDA model can be described as a reliableassessment tool that can be used from different parts of the worldfor educators teaching ESL learners (Gottlieb, 2010). The majordisadvantage about this test is that the assessment test has beenlimited to assessment and does not provide any recommendations on howeducators can react towards the performance of their learners. Thismeans that educators will need to incorporate other methods that willhelp the students achieve an effective learning outcome for Englishlanguage.


Asan educator for ESL students where assessment tests are not used inthe bilingual school that I undertake my responsibility of teachingESL students, I can highly recommend implementation of the WIDA modelin tutoring of my learners in the private school. In my school, theMAP test is the only test that is used for ESL students in highergrades and this leaves the lower grades and kindergarten with verylittle on gauging their performance in learning the English language.This is because the tool will help me in understanding theeffectiveness of my teaching methods and the level of understandingof my learners (August, 2010). With such a description of the WIDAmodel and the environment in which my learners are exposed to, Idecided on learning about the WIDA model as an effective tool thatwould help in assessing the level of learning for ESL learners.


Insummation, the WIDA model is one of the standardized assessment toolsthat can be used by educators in gauging the proficiency andunderstanding levels for learners. This is because the model offersa wide range of instructional materials for educators and scorecardsfor learners that help in learning of the students. Additionally, themodel can be used in different parts of the world, serving a purposefor all educators and ESL learners globally. With its fair budget,institutions and English learning departments can adopt this model ingaining effectiveness in the curriculum for ESL learning. Therefore,the description of the model serves as a coherent framework on whichlearning institutions can adopt the model in improving proficiencyand understanding levels in English as a second language forlearners.


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