More Than English:  Teaching Language and Content to ELLs

English Language Development Standards – WIDA

The ELD standards adopted by NC were developed by a consortium of states called WIDA (World-Class Instruction Design and Assessment).  They outline the progression of English language development in the four domains of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing through five levels from novice to proficient.  The Performance Definitions for Listening and Reading and Speaking and Writing  provide an incremental overview of the language acquisition process  from Level 1 Entering through Level 5 Bridging.

The Performance Definitions incorporate five language standards in each of the four domains (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing):
  • Social and Instructional language
  • The language of Language Arts
  • The language of Mathematics
  • The language of Science
  • The language of Social Studies
The WIDA standards chart these Features of Academic Language by proficiency level:
  • vocabulary usage
  • language forms and conventions
  • linguistic complexity
The  WIDA writing rubric is also useful for scoring student work in the classroom.
The Can-Do descriptors give teachers a basic overview of each student’s abilities based on the annual proficiency test (ACCESS)  results.  Keep in mind that each student will have a separate score for each domain.  Generally, Speaking and Listening proficiency develop more rapidly than Reading and Writing, although there are always exceptions.  The charts below include a column where you can add student names to the corresponding proficiency level and share with the classroom teacher.
The Model Performance Indicators (MPI) are examples of language usage from each of the four domains (Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing) presented in a developmental sequence across language proficiency levels and grade level clusters.  They incorporate the language and instructional supports necessary for English language learners to progress towards mastery of state academic content standards.  They include both formative and summative examples. Regardless of the grade level or content area, MPIs for Levels 1,2, and 3 incorporate visual or graphic support, realia, or manipulatives to provide students access to meaning through multiple modalities. MPIs for Levels 4 and 5 assume students are exposed to and working with grade level material. 
DPI has released a 64 page document on Unpacking the ESL Standards.”  If you scroll through it, you will find good sentence frames that model how to teach ELD standards within each content area.
In September 2011, WIDA released revised ELD standards for 2012 which include “cognitive function” (Bloom’s revised taxonomy).