- Academic Support
In December, Perkiomen School received notice of its acceptance into the WIDA International School Consortium.
WIDA (World-Class Institutional Design and Assessment) originated in 2003, sprouting out of the Wisconsin Department of Public Education. It is now housed at the University of Wisconsin Madison and its reach spreads across 40 states in the U.S. and more than 100 countries worldwide. Perkiomen School now joins a list of more than 400 member schools in the International School Consortium.
The organization’s webpage describes the consortium as, “A community of accredited, PreK-12 international schools that use WIDA’s research-based standards and assessments.” The site goes on to say, “Member schools are committed to developing inclusive programs that build on the assets of all learners while transforming the conversation about what multilingual students can do.”
Jessica Maley, Perkiomen’s Director of English as a Second Language, has been involved with WIDA for the last decade, dating back to her time as a program coordinator in Vietnam and later as a teacher in Taiwan. Maley expressed her excitement for the numerous benefits WIDA membership will have for Perkiomen, particularly the program’s potential to help teachers tailor their instruction to individual English learning students, even those outside of the official ESL program.
“It’s one thing for students to take a summative assessment like the TOEFL Test,” Maley said, “but it doesn’t really give anything practical for teachers to know what to do with that [information] within their courses. Using the WIDA framework, teachers can see where students are, what, very specifically, they can be expected to do, and how, practically, to apply that within their content area.”
WIDA offers members research standards and assessments that can be used for monitoring a student’s English language progress. Ideally, each English language learning student at Perkiomen will have an individual language portfolio, assessing that student’s language level in specific academic subjects such as math, science, and history. This portfolio will then be accessible for all of a student’s content teachers.
Other benefits of the program include its strong network of distinguished, international schools worldwide, as well as access to WIDA’s newsletters and articles which serve to keep member institutions abreast of happenings within the network.
The consortium is at the forefront of English Language learning. It has made the shift to use the term “multilingual learner” in order to recognize that many students placed in ESL programs are not just limited to two languages. WIDA also stresses an additive perspective when it comes to evaluating students, opting not to use a deficit model which emphasizes what a student is not yet able to do, but, rather, the growth mindset of what a student has already achieved, and what can be done to take the next step.
Overall, as a part of the WIDA International School Consortium, Perkiomen continues its march toward providing a more vibrant and inclusive program for English language learners, one with flexibility for personalized assessments that celebrate individual steps toward success.
By Greg Welsh, Marketing & Communications Assistant
Greg Welsh is a 2020 graduate of Villanova University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He has a background in journalism and is excited to be assisting Perkiomen School by working with the Office of Marketing & Communications.
I see education as the most powerful path to leadership and positive change-making, and I want all students to have the confidence and skills to access education effectively. Language competence is a key element in ensuring this access, and as a result, I am passionate about helping students improve their English language comprehension in order to help them communicate their ideas and deepen their understanding of content. I want my students to know that working hard makes a difference, making mistakes is a big part of learning, and I will always do my best to help them along the way.Jessica Maley, Director of English as a Second Language