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DPI, UW-Madison School of Education project receive federal grant

September 28, 2011

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, on behalf of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education’s World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment (WIDA), has received a $10.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to build a technology-based assessment system for English learners.

The department is the lead agency in a 28-state consortium that is working with WIDA and five other development and research partners to develop new assessments for English learners.

“This award is a gratifying acknowledgment of the leadership at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the reputation for quality that is associated with WIDA’s work and that of our partners at the Center for Applied Linguistics,” says Timothy Boals, executive director of WIDA.

WIDA is housed in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW–Madison. The project funded by the grant will develop an online assessment system to measure student progress in attaining the English skills necessary to be successful in school, as well as later in postsecondary school and work.

“Language is a powerful force that helps shape our individual and collective identity,” says Julie Underwood, dean of the UW–Madison School of Education. “I am delighted that this funding will allow WIDA and its consortium partners to develop a new, research-based assessment system for English learners in our schools. Following in WIDA’s tradition, this assessment system represents an approach that aligns standards, assessments, and professional development.”

For more information about the grant visit the state Department of Public Instruction’s website at