Multilingual Learners: English Language Development Standards


Maryland is a member of the WIDA Consortium and has adopted WIDA’s English Language Development (ELD) Standards. As a multistate coalition of state departments of education, WIDA acts in collaboration to advance academic language development and academic achievement for multilingual learners through high quality standards, assessments, research, and professional learning for educators.

Organization and Format

WIDA's grade-level English Language Development (ELD) Standards directly correspond to grade-level Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and utilize five proficiency levels—entering, emerging, developing, expanding, and bridging—to measure the progression of a student's ELD. The basic format of the standards is represented with language proficiency levels along the horizontal strand and the language domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing along the vertical axis. Four Big Ideas anchor the standards:

  • Equity of opportunity and access
    • This is essential for multilingual learners' preparation for college, career and civic lives.
  • Integration of content and language
    • Academic content is the context for language learning, and language is the means for learning academic content.
  • Collaboration among stakeholders
    • Stakeholders share responsibility for educating multilingual learners.
  • Functional approach to language development
    • This approach helps educators focus on the purposeful use of language.

In addition, the academic language focus of the WIDA Consortium's ELD Standards incorporates not only language arts and mathematics standards but also the content areas of science and social studies.


The WIDA Consortium's ELD Standards are intended to be used by Maryland's local school systems' policy makers, curriculum specialists, administrators, classroom teachers, ELD teachers, and other school personnel who work with ELs. They will serve as a critical resource for understanding the linguistic needs and abilities of ELs, creating ELD instructional models, writing curricula, designing assessments, and monitoring ELs' progress as they move through the five stages of language proficiency.

Local school systems will use the WIDA Consortium’s ELD Standards as a basis for developing their own curricula, incorporating a scope and sequence that can be adapted to their individual program requirements and their EL population. With the ELD Standards as a guide and through collaboration between ELD and content-area teachers, ELs will be provided with quality instruction that enables them to meet school expectations, perform well on mandated assessments, and become college and career ready.