Wisconsin: ELL Resources

As of the 2012-13 school year, Wisconsin's schools were home to more than 46,000 English language learners (ELLs), which marks a 81% increase from the 2002-2003 school year (Migration Policy Institute, 2015). Currently, the most common languages spoken by ELLs in Wisconsin are Spanish, Hmong, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

Wisconsin was the lead state of WIDA (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment) when it was created in 2003. WIDA is a consortium of states dedicated to the design and implementation of high standards and equitable educational opportunities for English language learners which offers states programming for identifying and annually assessing the English language development of its English learners.

State ELL Resources

State Agency: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

ELL Website: Bilingual / ESL Website

ELP Assessment

ELP Assessment: WIDA-ACCESS for ELLs

Statewide Standards-Based Assessment

Assessment: Wisconsin Forward Exam

Accommodations: Forward Exam Accommodations Resources

Additional Information

NCELA: Title III Information

WIDA: Statewide Contact Information

ESSA: Wisconsin ESSA State Plan


Statewide Organizations


AFT-Wisconsin is a labor organization and a Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of Teachers representing 17,000 public employees in the state of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Education Association Council

Wisconsin Education Association Council is a National Education Association State Affiliate that regularly lobbies legislators for the resources schools need, campaigns for higher professional standards for the teaching profession, and files legal actions to protect academic freedom and the rights of school employees.


Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training & Support (“WI FACETS”) has become a leading source of information and support in Wisconsin for children and youth who have special needs, their families and others who support them.

Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

WITESOL promotes excellence in English language teaching to speakers of other languages in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: Seal of Biliteracy

Wisconsin adopted the Seal of Biliteracy in 2015. The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by a school, district, or state in recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. This story from Wisconsin Public Radio highlights Seal of Biliteracy programs in the state.



Ruiz Soto, Ariel G., Sarah Hooker, and Jeanne Batalova. 2015. States and Districts with the Highest Number and Share of English Language Learners. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/states-and-districts-highest-number-and-share-english-language-learners

Ruiz Soto, Ariel G., Sarah Hooker, and Jeanne Batalova. 2015. Top Languages Spoken by English Language Learners Nationally and by State. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute. http://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/number-and-growth-students-us-schools-need-english-instruction-2009

Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students. Wisconsin Rate of EL Growth (1997/98-2007/08). Compiled July 2010 and retrieved from http://www.ncela.gwu.edu/t3sis/state/wisconsin/.