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In 2002 an EAG grant provided initial funding for the organization that would become WIDA. Three states were involved in the grant: Wisconsin (WI), Delaware (D), and Arkansas (A), so the acronym WIDA was chosen for the name. At the last minute, however, Arkansas dropped out, and World-class Instructional Design and Assessment was created to fit the acronym. As WIDA grew, however, the original name no longer adequately described its mission. Recently WIDA decided to stop using the acronym definition. Now WIDA just means WIDA. Read our Mission, Vision, and Values to see what we stand for.


WIDA advances academic language development and academic achievement for children and youth who are culturally and linguistically diverse through high quality standards, assessments, research, and professional learning for educators.

The WIDA Can Do Philosophy

WIDA embraces inclusion and equity with its Can Do philosophy. WIDA focuses attention on expanding students' academic language by building on the inherent resources of English language learners (ELLs) and accentuating the positive efforts of educators.

Academic Language

Everything WIDA does revolves around the significance of academic language and how to empower language learners to reach for success. The following are some of the guiding documents, academic references, and efforts to share this message with the educational community.

The WIDA Guiding Principles of Language Development

Language is a powerful force that helps shape our individual and collective identity. WIDA views language as a resource and ELLs as valued contributors to learning communities. The Principles of Language Development acknowledge the diverse linguistic resources our students draw from and the unique pathways they follow throughout the process of learning English.

The Principles of Language Development were drafted by WIDA staff and enhanced by the WIDA standards expert panel, a group of researchers and practitioners in the field of academic language from across the US. The final results of this work, with references, are posted below.

WIDA believes in and adheres to the following principles in development of all of its products and services:

The WIDA Standards Framework and its Theoretical Foundations

WIDA draws on multiple theories and approaches in an effort to describe language use in academic contexts; this is the language that language learners must acquire and negotiate to participate successfully in school. These multiple theories and approaches form a theoretical foundation that supports the WIDA standards framework.

The standards framework consists of five components. Some of these components are expressions of a particular philosophy, while others are explicit representations of knowledge. The five components are:

    • Can Do Philosophy
    • Guiding Principles of Language Development
    • Age-Appropriate Academic Language in Sociocultural Contexts
    • Performance Definitions
    • Strands of Model Performance Indicators