WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, 2020 Edition: Key Shifts and Emerging Tensions

Scott E. Grapin, Okhee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In December 2020, the WIDA Consortium released the WIDA English Language Development Standards Framework, 2020 Edition. In the coming years, the 2020 Edition will be implemented across 36 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories and agencies in the US. The 2020 Edition also arrives at a time when the field of TESOL is grappling with multiple theoretical perspectives on how to provide an equitable education to the nation’s fast-growing population of multilingual learners. As the WIDA Standards and their updates over multiple editions reflect evolving conceptions of language, language development, and the integration of language and content learning, the 2020 Edition offers an opportunity to take stock of where the field has been, how it has shifted, and what challenges might lie ahead. The purpose of this article is to inform TESOL educators, including researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, of the 2020 Edition and its differences from its immediate predecessor (2012 Edition). We begin by providing a brief overview of the U.S. K-12 policy context. Next, we describe key conceptual shifts embodied by the 2020 Edition. Finally, we highlight emerging tensions that TESOL educators are likely to grapple with as the standards get implemented in K-12 classrooms with multilingual learners. Although this article is situated in the U.S. policy context, its relevance extends to the international community of TESOL educators, as the shifts and tensions inherent in the standards resonate with broader shifts and tensions in the TESOL literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-839
Number of pages13
JournalTESOL Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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