It's time to start testing two and a half year olds to make sure they are acquiring academic language. Really.
WIDA has announced " Early English Language Development Standards," designed to help "dual language learners" ages 2.5 to 5.5 develop "appropriate academic language."
The new standards cover: The language of Social-Emotional Development, Early Language and Literacy, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Physical Development.
Standards means tests.
WIDA stands for "World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment" and it is clearly deeply involved with assessment – see http://www.wida.us/aboutus/partners.aspx.
WIDA makes it clear that the standards can be used "to help inform standards-based assessments" (WIDA E-ELD Standards, p. 11), and you can be sure this will happen. The result will be testing based on the standards, and efforts will be made to make sure children pass the tests. This means direct instruction in phonemic awareness, story grammars, etc, all elements of these new standards.
(Despite an "important note" in WIDA E-ELD Standards explaining that there are many factors that "significantly affect the rate and pattern of language development" and that we need to "take great care" when determining language level, WIDA presents detailed descriptions of what children should be able to do at each age.)
WIDA's standards are a terrible solution to a non-existent problem. Academic language comes easily when children become readers, and the best way to make sure this happens is reading stories to children and providing access to lots of books in the first and second language. Instead, we are turning pre-school into test-prep.
Early English Language Development Standards, Ages 2.5–5.5, 2013 Edition (“WIDA E-ELD Standards”). Available at wida.us.