English Language Development Standards

Educators across the Untied States (and across the globe for that matter) are immersed in aligning curriculum, instruction, and assessment to new standards with the goal of increasing student achievement and preparation for successful military, workforce, and university participation. A call for adopting rigorous standards in the US is nothing new.  Educational organizations in areas such as technology, mathematics, and English have supported standards-based instruction for many years. In fact, the standards movement can be traced back past the National Commission on Excellence in Education’s Nation at Risk report received by President Reagan probably to Sputnik.

In the area of teaching English as Second or Other Language (ESOL), over 35 states, include South Carolina, have adopted new standards for English Language Learners (ELL’s) through The World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA) Consortium. WIDA welcomed South Carolina via Twitter on Feb. 7, 2014. WIDA’s website provides information regarding the Consortium, such as its mission and history so I will not reiterate that information. However, I would like to highlight the English Language Development (ELD) standards as a way to draw attention to the ongoing need to provide differentiated instruction and assessment so that all students achieve ACADEMIC success so that they are prepared to successfully participate in careers or college upon graduation.


The WIDA Essential Actions Handbook describes how WIDA’s framework for English Language Development (ELD) Standards are aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as well as content standards from states that did not adopt CCSS and/or NGSS but made attempts to replicate the rigor of the CCSS and/or NGSS. In short, the WIDA ELD Standards align with current State Standards to provide a robust level of expected learning for English Language Learner’s (ELL’s).

WIDA provides five English Language Development (ELD) Standards. The ELD Standards require that English Language Learners (ELL’s) communicate information, ideas, and concepts to be successful in the four core academic areas of ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

The Five WIDA English Language Development (ELD) Standards

ELD Standard 1: English language learners communicate for Social and Instructional purposes within the school setting

ELD Standard 2: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Language Arts.

ELD Standard 3: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Mathematics.

ELD Standard 4: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Science.

ELD Standard 5: English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Social Studies.

WIDA ELD Standards

WIDA provides five levels of English language proficiency: Entering, Emerging, Developing, Expanding, and Bridging; and includes Model Performance Indicators (MPI’s) to distinguish proficiency levels along a scale.

Potential benefits from WIDA include: an alignment of ELL entry assessment with the annual re-assessment to evaluate current performance levels as well as a focus on teaching English through the content area standards.

Beliefs, High Expectations and Student Achievement

Professional athletes often cite a person who “believed” in them as a driving force for success. Likewise, educators have postulated for many years that expectations regarding student achievement do affect teacher behavior, and in turn teacher behavior affects student achievement. Educational literature is full of information motivating us to understand that we must believe in our students and the power of education to change our world, one young person at a time. In fact, the impact of teacher expectations on student achievement is one of the most widely researched areas in education. “Expectations regarding student achievement do affect teacher behavior and teacher behavior then affects student achievement” (Marzano as cited in Umphrey, 2008, p. 17).  The following question seems to be at the heart of the reflection we need to engage as educators: what behaviors are exhibited on a daily basis in your realm of experience, which exemplify high expectations and a belief in all students (and here is the kicker) AND are yielding higher levels of student achievement and a culture of excellence?

Motivation and work ethic are keys to success. Educators must motivate the unmotivated and teach students how to set goals and work toward accomplishing goals. A research study conducted by the ACT found that “academic discipline” accounted for 61 percent of the predictive strength of academic behaviors (ACT, 2008). The study defined “academic discipline” as “the skill component of motivation, such as the degree to which a student is hardworking and conscientious” (p. 26). The implications of these findings indicate that teaching students how to be “conscientious” and engaging students so that they are “motivated” and “hardworking” is essential to successful career and college readiness (i.e. effective citizens).  According to the ACT study, “college and career readiness does not occur at a single point in time but is the result of a process extending throughout the K-12 years” (p. 36).  As educators, we constantly remind ourselves that we prepare our students to be effective citizens by believing in our students and our abilities to reach them – and then actualize those beliefs through sound teaching practices each and everyday.

Do your students contribute to your learning and the learning of others? How do you differentiate instruction and assessment for your students? How do you lead for differentiation and student success? Do students apply their learning?