The WIDA School Improvement System: An Origin Story

June 5, 2019 | Categories: Partners , Updates , Wida

Introducing WIDA SIS

For the past five years, the Comprehensive Assessment of Leadership for Learning (CALL) has been managed and distributed by the Wisconsin Center for Education Products and Services (WCEPS). During that time, and for some time before CALL, WCEPS has been partnering with WIDA to market and distribute many of WIDA’s products and services to support English Learners (ELs). And in January of 2018, the CALL Team and WIDA leadership came together and recognized a need to develop a version of CALL for developing leadership for teaching ELs. A year and a half later, that vision became a reality. We are excited to roll out the WIDA School Improvement System (WIDA SIS), which is the result of this collaborative project.

How Was WIDA SIS Developed?

WIDA Leadership worked with the CALL Team to adapt the validated CALL instrument to focus more specifically on instructional leadership practices that support teaching ELs. If you are familiar with CALL, you know that the CALL system begins with a survey on school-wide leadership. Rather than focus on a specific individual leader, the CALL survey utilizes a distributed leadership lens to measure key practices, tasks, and activities that are carried out by various leaders and educators across the school. The WIDA/CALL collaborative team applied the same CALL approach to survey design and inquiry when designing WIDA SIS. Many of the original survey items from the CALL Primary System are part of WIDA SIS but with a shift: the new survey items present practices that specifically focus on teaching and serving ELs.

A brainstorm flashback:
January 2018: WIDA leaders begin the process of identifying constructs to be included on what would eventually be called the WIDA School Improvement System

The collaborative team engaged in an iterative process of item review, editing, and removal until it was time to conduct a pilot of the new instrument. CALL Project Director Mark Blitz, WIDA Director of Professional Learning Diep Nguyen, and WIDA Founder and Director Tim Boals presented at the 2018 WIDA Conference to introduce what was then essentially “the WIDA version of CALL” and to announce the beginning of the pilot. Over the next few months, the pilot version of WIDA SIS was administered in 45 schools across the country. Researchers from WCEPS and WIDA interviewed pilot participants to obtain general and specific feedback on the pilot instrument. In addition, the research team conducted a confirmatory factor analysis on the resulting pilot data in order to narrow the scope of the instrument. As a result, the current WIDA SIS survey is tightly focused on relevant instructional leadership practices designed to enhance instruction for ELs.

The WIDA/CALL partnership has been a great success and a wonderful experience. The opportunity to work with experts on pedagogy and education policy for ELs has been truly special. As we roll out this new system to schools across the country and around the world, the CALL Team looks forward to this continued collaborative partnership!

Sample survey item on WIDA SIS