Wisconsin: ELL Resources

Map of Wisconsin

As of the 2016-2017 school year, Wisconsin’s schools were home to a little over 46,000 English language learners. As of the 2014-2015 school year, the most common five languages spoken by ELLs in Wisconsin were Spanish, Hmong, Chinese, Arabic, and Somali. (U.S. Dept. of Education, National Center for Education Statistics)

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 and English Learner Education

ELP Assessment

ELP Standards: WIDA English Language Proficiency Standards

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.

Note: Regulations change with time. These guidelines were compiled in January of 2012 and updated in January 2020. If you see something that needs updating, please send an e-mail to Colorín Colorado. For more detailed information regarding ELL guidelines and policies at the state and federal levels, please see the following:


National Center for Education Statistics. (2018.) English language learner (ELL) students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, fall 2000 through fall 2016. 

U.S. Department of Education. Our Nation’s English Learners. Most Common Non-English Languages Spoken by English Learners.