Formative Language Assessment Records for ELLs
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Glossary of Terms Associated with the FLARE in Secondary School Program

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Academic content standards
Statements that define what students are expected to know and be able to do to attain competency in challenging subject matter associated with schooling, such as state mathematics standards.
Academic language
The vocabulary, grammatical structures and discourse required in learning the academic content of school subjects; aspects of language strongly associated with literacy development and achievement.
Academic language proficiency
The ability to make complex meanings explicit using appropriate language for that specific content area.
Academic success
Demonstrated knowledge and skills needed to meet state academic content standards.
ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners)
WIDA's K-12 secure, summative English language proficiency test, aligned to its English language proficiency standards, and administered on an annual basis in member states for accountability purposes.
ACT (American College Testing Assessment)
College entrance exam that assesses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work.
Affective factors
Influences that affect language learning such as emotions, self-esteem, investment, resilience, empathy, anxiety, attitude, and motivation.
The extent of correspondence among standards, assessment, curriculum, and instruction.
Alternate ACCESS for ELLs
A measure of English language proficiency, aligned to WIDA's English language proficiency standards, designed for English language learners with severe cognitive disabilities who can not participate in ACCESS for ELLs, even with accommodations.
Any systemic method of obtaining information from tests and other sources, used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, interventions, or programs.
Assessment Toolbox
A series of tests and teacher-friendly assessment materials that teachers can use to monitor their students' progress as the students gain literacy in academic English.


Benchmark Test
Periodic assessment that provides students, parents, and educators with information on unit attainment or progress across units.
The ability to negotiate effectively within two different cultural systems.
The use of two languages by the same person or group.



CAN DO Descriptors
Grade level cluster statements of the expected performance of English language learners in listening, speaking, reading, and writing for each of the five levels of English language proficiency across the WIDA English language proficiency standards.
CLIMBS (Content and Language Integration as a Means of Bridging Success)
A professional development hybrid course of study, involving face-to-face and on-line components, that examines the relationship between language and content in light of WIDA's English language proficiency standards, results from assessment measures, and their classroom applications.
Communicative competence
The ability to recognize and produce authentic and appropriate language correctly and fluently in any situation; the use of language in realistic, everyday settings; involves grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence.
Content-based instruction
A model of language education that integrates language and content instruction in the classroom; an approach to second language learning in which second language teachers use instructional materials, learning tasks, and classroom techniques from academic content areas a s the vehicle for developing second language, content, cognitive, and study skills.
Core content areas
Specific curriculum subject matter areas, namely, English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies which typically incorporate reading, writing, and research.
Cross-cultural competence
The ability to function according to the cultural rules of more than one cultural system; the ability to respond in culturally sensitive and appropriate ways according to the cultural demands of a given situation.
The sum total of the ways of life of a people, including norms, learned behavior patterns, attitudes, and artifacts; also involves traditions, habits, or customs; how people behave, fell, and interact; the means by which they order and interpret the words; ways of perceiving, relating, and interpreting events based on established social norms; a system of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, and acting.



Declarative knowledge
Is knowledge about something (e.g., that Washington D.C. is the capital of America).
Extended, connected oral or written language that may include detailed explanations, descriptions, and propositions.


English Language Learners (ELLs)
Linguistically and culturally diverse students who have been identified through reliable and valid assessment as having levels of English language proficiency that preclude them from accessing, processing, and acquiring unmodified grade level content in English and thereby, qualifying for language support services.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
The field of English as a second language; curriculum, courses, classes, and/or programs designed for students learning English as an additional language.
English language proficiency levels
Stages of language development marked along a continuum; WIDA uses six proficiency levels- Entering, Beginning, Developing, Expanding, Bridging, and Reaching for its English language proficiency standards and assessments.
English language proficiency standards
Criteria that express the language expectations of ELLs at the end of their English language acquisition journey across language domains.



FLARE (Formative Language Assessment Records for English Language Learners)
A program funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, for developing language learning targets, based on the strands of model performance Indicators of the English language proficiency and college readiness standards, as the basis for creating and validating a formative, classroom assessment system in secondary settings.
Formative assessment
An ongoing assessment process that provides students and teachers with feedback on progress toward instructional goals.


General language
Words, expressions, grammatical patterns used in a variety of contexts inside and out of school.
General vocabulary
Words or phrases not generally associated with a specific content area (e.g., describe, book).
A type of literary work (e.g., poetry, drama) or expository text (e.g., research studies, historical documents) classified according to common elements of content, form, or technique.
Grade level cluster
A span of contiguous grades around which English language proficiency standards and assessment have been designed; WIDA's grade level clusters for its standards and language proficiency assessments are preK-K, 1-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
Graphic organizer
A method of summarization where students represent ideas and connections among ideas in graphic forms.



High-frequency vocabulary
Terms used regularly in everyday situations (e.g., open, school).
Home language
Language(s) spoken in the home by significant others (e.g., family members, caregivers) who reside in the home; sometimes used as a synonym for first language, primary language, or native language.


Instructional language
A special variety of language used in classrooms and governed by the different.
Instructional purposes
Related to learning in the classroom and school environments.
Interactive supports
A type of scaffold to help students communicate and facilitate their access to content, such as by working in pairs or groups to confirm prior knowledge, using their native language to clarify, or incorporating technology into classroom activities.
Intercultural competence
The ability to function according to the cultural rules of more than one cultural system.
Interim Assessment
See Benchmark Test .



A student's native or first language.
A student's second language, generally English.
LADDER (Literacy in Assessment and Data Designed for Effective Results for English Language Learners)
An extensive professional development program, granted under ESEA Title III, that involves schools' ongoing analysis and interpretation of data relevant to the improvement of educational services for English language learners.
Language assessment frameworks (LAFs)
Matrices of content-specific, sequential language learning goals.
Language control
The comprehensibility of the communication based on the amount and types of phonological, morphological and syntactic errors made by English language learners as they develop English.
Language domains
The four main subdivisions of language proficiency: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Language function
How language learners process and use language to communicate in a variety of contexts and situations.
Language learning targets (LLTs)
Learning progressions framed by the four linguistic components: language functions, vocabulary, grammar, and language discourse.
Language proficiency levels
The demarcations along the language acquisition continuum that are defined by a series of model performance indicators, from Starting (Level 1) to Reaching (Level 6).
Language proficiency standards
Statements that define the language necessary for English language learners to attain social and academic competencies associated with schooling.
Limited English Proficient (LEP)
individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have a limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English.
Linguistic complexity
the extent of denseness or amount of information in oral and written language as determined by the vocabulary, grammatical structures, and discourse.
the ability to process, understand, interpret, and evaluate spoken language in a variety of situations.



MODEL (Measure of Developing English Language)
a standards-based English language proficiency test, contained in a box kit, currently available for incoming Kindergartners, designed to be a developmentally appropriate, reliable and valid measure for identification of English language learners.
Model Performance Indicator (MPI)
an individual cell within the English language proficiency matrix that is descriptive of a specific level of English language proficiency for a language domain.


ONPAR (Obtaining Necessary Parity through Academic Rigor)
Two Title I funded projects for the subject areas of Science and Mathematics intended to develop accessible and valid criterion-referenced tests for beginning English Language Learners, comparable to states' achievement tests but with use of computer technology.



Performance assessment
Product- and behavior-based measurement based on settings designed to emulate real-life contexts or conditions in which specific knowledge or skills are applied.
Performance definitions
Criteria that shape the levels of English language proficiency level; e.g., vocabulary usage, language control, and linguistic complexity.
Performance standards
Statements that define the extent to which students are meeting the stated standards; in the instance of English language proficiency standards, performance definitions correspond to descriptions of what students can do at each language proficiency level.
Procedural knowledge
Is knowledge of how to do something (e.g., how to drive a car).
Productive language
Language that is communicated; includes the language domains of speaking and writing.


The ability to process, understand, interpret, and evaluate written language, symbols, and text with understanding and fluency.
Real life or authentic objects used in instruction and formative assessment.
Receptive language
Language that is processed and interpreted; includes the language domains of listening and reading.
The established criteria, including rules, principles, and illustrations, used in scoring responses to individual items and clusters of items.



Building on already acquired skills and knowledge from level to level of language proficiency based on increased linguistic complexity, vocabulary usage and language control through the use of supports.
Sensory supports
A type of scaffold that facilitates students' deeper understanding of language or access to meaning through the senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, or tasting).
Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP)
A research-based and validated instructional model used to address the academic needs of English language learners; see e.g.,
Social language proficiency
The use of language for daily interaction and communication.
Social purposes
The basic fluency needed to communicate effectively in a variety of situations within school.
Oral communication used in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes and audiences.
Specialized language
Terms associated with a particular content area (e.g., subtraction with mathematics).
Specialized vocabulary
Academic terms or phrases associated with the content areas of Language arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
Declarative sentences of fact.
Student self-assessments
Students evaluate their own progress and proficiency by reviewing their work to determine what they have learned and what areas of confusion still exist.
Students with Interrupted Formal Education (SIFE)
Recent arrivals in the U.S. who have little or no formal schooling and are several grade levels behind peers their own age.
Summative assessment
An occasional (often annual) assessment that provides parents, educators, and policymakers with information on course/standard attainment or progress.
The element of a model performance Indicator that provides students a visual/sensory, graphic, or interactive avenue to access content through language.



Technical language
Terms associated with a specific content area topic (e.g., subtrahend with mathematics).
Technical vocabulary
Terminology associated with topics within the content areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.
An evaluative device or procedure in which a sample of an examinee's behavior in a specified domain is obtained and subsequently evaluated and scored using a standardized process.
A particular theme or concept derived from state and national content standards that provides a social or academic content-related context for language development; an element of model performance indicators.
Deliberate changes to the elements of Model Performance Indicators or components of the standards' matrix that enable educators to customize instruction and assessment for their English language learners.


Visually supported
Print or text that is accompanied by pictures, illustrations, photographs, charts, tables, graphs, graphic organizers, or reproductions thereby offering English language learners opportunities to access meaning from multiple sources.
Vocabulary usage
The specificity of language used in association with schooling and particular content area subjects, from general to specialized to technical terms; one of the criteria that constitute WIDA's speaking and writing rubrics.



W-APT (WIDA-ACCESS Placement Test)
a grade level cluster screening test for linguistically and culturally diverse students to help determine initial identification of English language learners (ELLs) and eligibility for language education services; results also to be used, in part, to place ELLs into a tier for administration of ACCESS for ELLs.
WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment)
is a consortium of states dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English language learners.
written communication in a variety of forms for a variety of purposes and audiences.