LADDER Coaches are district- or school-based language specialists who are trained by WIDA Facilitators on the WIDA data analysis process and team coaching competencies. LADDER Coaches play a key role in guiding and supporting the LADDER Leadership Teams as they go through the program and make ongoing data-informed decisions to improve instruction and programming for their language learners.

Throughout the program, WIDA Facilitators work with the LADDER Coaches by using powerful professional learning approaches that combine in-person learning with individual virtual coaching sessions.

LADDER Coaches support their team by:

  • Listening empathetically and actively to the LADDER Leadership Team to thoroughly understand their intentions and perspectives
  • Facilitating the team’s focus on items that will yield the greatest results
  • Collaborating to analyze data, develop new practices, and create action tasks
  • Mediating learning to focus on supporting language learners
  • Breaking through barriers that prevent forward movement
  • Providing feedback to team through reflective conversations


“Our WIDA LADDER work has been, not only essential for our ELLs, but vital for all our students.”

— 2014-2015 LADDER Coach

The LADDER Leadership Team — a multi-disciplinary team of educators — is supported at every phase of the program by the LADDER Coach and the WIDA Facilitator. The LADDER Leadership Team uses data to identify improvement goals that inform a specific action plan focused on instructional and programmatic improvement for language learners. With guidance from the WIDA Facilitator and LADDER Coach, the LADDER Leadership Team embarks on a critical and continuous cycle of reflection and action, with the ongoing use of data as a basis for decision making. The LADDER Leadership Team is typically comprised of 5-8 team members including an administrator, language specialists, and content specialists. Two LADDER Coaches can support up to two teams each for a total of up to 32 participants.

LADDER Leadership Team Activities:

  • Participate in monthly meetings lead by the LADDER Coach
  • Engage in a process of data collection and analysis to support programming and instruction for language learners
  • Participate in 4 professional learning workshops with the WIDA Facilitator at your district
    • Setting a Foundation
    • Data Analysis & Action Planning
    • Implementation
    • Reflection & Extension


“Action planning is key! You start looking at the summative data, talking with teachers and setting up this action plan. You start noticing what you are doing, the strategies you are using, how students are going to benefit and how you are going to monitor that progress. It really gets the whole school to think.”

—2014 LADDER Leadership Team Member

WIDA LADDER is divided in to four phases: Setting a Foundation, Data Analysis & Action Planning, Implementation, and Reflection & Extension. LADDER Coaches and Leadership Teams are the driving forces behind the program and engage in ongoing data analysis to make informed decisions about programming and instruction for language learners.

1) Setting a Foundation Phase

The purpose of the Setting a Foundation phase is to develop common background knowledge about, and commitment to, your language learners.

  • LADDER Coaching Institute
  • Online Tutorial: Introduction to ELLs
  • Workshop: Setting a Foundation

Key Outcomes:

  • Understanding of the elements of WIDA LADDER
  • Awareness of initial data to be gathered
  • Shared commitment to the success of language learners

2) Data Analysis & Action Planning

During the Data Analysis phase, LADDER Leadership Teams analyze a selected set of data related to their language learners and develop focus areas of improvement to work towards during the school year.

  • Online Tutorial: Assessment and Data for ELLs
  • Workshop: Data Analysis & Action Planning
  • Monthly Leadership Team meetings led by LADDER Coaches
  • Monthly coaching calls with WIDA Facilitator

Key Outcomes:

  • Analysis of a selected set of data related to your language learners
  • Determination of areas of focus for improvement

3) Implementation

During the Implementation phaseLADDER Leadership Team members implement their action plan with guidance and support from LADDER Coaches. This focused implementation model provides a context for continuing to apply a data-informed decision making model in practice.

  • Workshop: Implementation
  • Monthly Leadership Team meetings led by LADDER Coaches
  • Monthly coaching calls with WIDA Facilitator

Key Outcomes:

  • Implementation of new practices outlined in the action plan including ongoing data gathering and analysis
  • Refinement of the action plan as needed

4) Reflection & Extension

The Reflection/Extension phase is focused on reviewing and revising the action plan holistically. Team members engage in data analysis to investigate the overall success of their action plan. Then they revise and enhance their improvement goals and plan.

  • Workshop: Reflection & Extension
  • Monthly Leadership Team meetings led by LADDER Coaches
  • Monthly coaching calls with WIDA Facilitator

Key Outcomes:

  • Evaluation of the implementation of the action plan
  • Plan revisions and expansions