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English Language Learners and Special Education: Who? What? When?Where? Why? How? . Barbara Tedesco & Elizabeth Franks Roselle Public Schools. Over-identification Diana v. California Board of Education.

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english language learners and special education who what when where why how

English Language Learners and Special Education: Who? What? When?Where? Why? How?

Barbara Tedesco & Elizabeth Franks

Roselle Public Schools


Diana v. California Board of Education.

Students classified due to language difference; inappropriate assessment.


Schools are very sensitive to possibility of mis-classification.

As a result, ELLs with real special education needs are left behind.

idea 300 534 determination of eligibility
IDEA 300.534Determination of eligibility
  • (b) A child may not be determined to be eligible under this part if
    • (1) The determinant factor for that eligibility determination is
      • (i) Lack of instruction in reading or math;
      • (ii) Limited English proficiency;

If the severe discrepancy or low functioning is due to one of the above factors, the student is NOT eligible for special education.

levels of intervention
Levels of Intervention
  • Systemic
  • Instructional
  • Individual
response to intervention model
Response to Intervention Model
  • Three Tiered Model




systemic an acceptable and supportive school environment characterized by
academically rich,

quality programs -

ELLs have to “catch

up” (15 month growth

in 10 mos.)

skilled use and

training of teachers

linguistic and cultural


making AYP as measured on benchmarks based on NCLB legislation

elimination of ineffective responses to failure: (retention, low level academics).

programs that support interventions.

Curriculum as window/mirror

SystemicAn acceptable and supportive school environment characterized by:
thomas collier test for equal educational opportunity
Thomas-Collier Test for Equal Educational Opportunity
  • Typical size of initial achievement gap between ELL and native English speakers25-30 NCE
  • Expected NCE gains each year for:
  • ·Typical native English speakers0 NCEs
  • ·Students in a typical ELL program 1-3 NCEs
  • ·  Students in an effective ELL program 4-6 NCEs
  • ·  Students in an outstanding ELL program 7-9 NCEs
  • Does your ELL instructional program close the achievement gap and keep it closed in later years?
systemic process
  • Profile
    • Gather relevant data
      • Attendance/educational gaps
      • Grades
      • Assessment of L1
      • Mobility
      • Length of time in district/country
      • Achievement in both languages
      • Family dynamics
      • Cultural characteristics
instructional all teachers use instructional strategies effective for ells
InstructionalAll teachers use instructional strategies effective for ELLs.

Research-Based Effective Models:


Reading First Initiatives

CREDE’s 5 pedagogical standards

sheltered instruction observation protocol siop
Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP)
  • Lesson Planning
  • Building Background
  • Comprehensible Input
  • Strategies
  • Interaction
  • Practice/Application
  • Lesson Delivery
  • Review/Assessment
  • Echevarria, Vogt & Short (2002)
reading first initiative
Vocabulary development

Text Comprehension

Phonemic awareness

Phonics instruction



Literacy-rich environment;

Sufficient instructional time;

Careful lesson planning;

School-wide assessment system;

School-wide interventions for struggling readers;

Sound instructional approaches;

grouping, maximizing student learning

School climate of collaboration, strong leadership, and evidence of commitment;

High quality professional development;

School partnerships.

Reading First Initiative
center for research in excellence diversity education crede
Center for Research in Excellence, Diversity & Education (CREDE)
  • Five pedagogical standards:
    • Joint productive activity.
    • Developing language and literacy across the curriculum.
    • Making meaning: connecting school to students’ lives.
    • Teaching complex thinking.
    • Teaching through instructional conversation.
grouping and classroom management
Grouping and Classroom Management
  • Vary grouping strategies
    • direct instruction, mixed ability grouping, pairs
  • Provide for differentiated teaching and learning.
  • Plan and promote positive interdependence and individual accountability.
  • Provide increased opportunity to practice academic language.
  • Promote a positive social climate.
InstructionalThe teacher uses a clinical teaching cycle in order to resolve the difficulty and/or validate the problem.
  • Carefully sequenced, scaffolded instruction
  • Assess
  • Teach using significantly different

strategies (learning styles, multiple


  • Informally monitor progress over time
  • Document this process
if the problem is not resolved seek support systems
If the problem is not resolved, seek support systems.

* Consultation (PAC/I&RS)

Gather relevant data from initial profile

Gather current data

Classroom observations (effective use of strategies; appropriate interventions)

* Title I

* Counseling

* Community-based programs

* One-on-one tutoring, identifying the exact weakness and using strategies that address that deficiency.

factors affecting second language acquisition



Degree of L1 proficiency

Attitude toward target language community

Tolerance of learner for own errors


Amount of exposure

Manner of acquisition

Availability of language models

Attitude of target language community

Tolerance of errors by the community.

Factors Affecting Second Language Acquisition
normal processes of second language acquisition
Normal Processes of Second Language Acquisition
  • Silent Period
  • Interference
  • Code switching
  • Fossilization
  • Language Loss
Language LossAn individual’s change from the habitual use of one language to the habitual use of another.
  • Language Loss symptoms resemble monolingual pathology:
    • poor comprehension;
    • limited vocabulary;
    • grammatical and syntactical errors;
    • expressive language.
  • It may be a disorder for one child and/or lack of English proficiency for another.
language loss
Language Loss
  • Loss in L1 is NOT matched by a corresponding replacement in L2. Loss can be much more rapid so that children will appear deficient in 2 languages.
  • Investigate the child’s earlier L1 capabilities. Long exposure with errors still present can indicate speech/language or learning problems.
if interventions do not solve problem
If interventions do not solve problem
  • A special education referral is initiated. A summary of all of the interventions and relevant data accompanies the referral.
  • A child study team convenes to determine whether the child should be referred for a comprehensive evaluation.
child study team referral
Child Study Team Referral?
  • If no,
    • Develop supportive plan in general education
  • If yes,
    • Determine and document dominant language
language dominance and proficiency 1
Oral language proficiency assessment in both languages.

If teacher is not fluent in both languages, train and use interpreter (see recommendations for training and use of interpreters)

Some suggestions of instruments:

LAS, IPT, BVAT, Brigance Screening

If tests are unavailable in student’s native language, use informal assessment measures (language sample, oral story retelling, evaluation of receptive language).

Language Dominance and Proficiency (1)
language dominance and proficiency 2
If L1 dominant, consider English language skills in achievement.

If English dominant, consider L1 in cognitive assessment.

If bilingual with no clear dominance, assess in both languages.

Language Dominance and Proficiency (2)
assessment assessment personnel complete the comprehensive individual assessment
Assessment Assessment personnel complete the comprehensive individual assessment
  • Select assessment battery

- native language (if available)

- English language

- formal and informal procedures

- curriculum-based assessment


Personnel - Hierarchy of Preferred Models

Contract services of bilingual professional CST member

Train bilingual education professional to assist.

Train other bilingual professionals to assist

Train community professionals to serve as interpreters.

Train non-professionals in the district as interpreters.

Train community non-professionals as interpreters.

In all instances train assessment personnel (monolingual or bilingual).

njac 6a 14 2 4 native language
NJAC 6A:14-2.4Native Language

(a) Written notice to the parent shall be provided and parent conferences required by this chapter shall be conducted in the language used for communication by the parent and student unless it is clearly not feasible to do so.

1. Foreign language interpreters or translators and sign language interpreters for the deaf shall be provided, when necessary, by the district board of education at no cost to the parent.

(b) If the native language is not a written language, the district board of education shall take steps to ensure that:

1. The notice is translated orally or by other means to the parent in his or her native language or other mode of communication;

2. That the parent understands the content of the notice; and

3. There is written documentation that the requirements of (b)1 and 2 above have been met

characteristics of interpreters
Characteristics of Interpreters
  • Have excellent bilingual communication skills.
  • Be able to relate to members of the cultural group.
  • Understand their ethical responsibilities.
  • Act in a professional manner.
  • Be TRAINED for their roles.
training of interpreters
Training of Interpreters
  • Legal requirements and professional ethics.
  • Goals of testing and/or meeting.
  • Special education terminology relevant to their roles in working with family members.
  • Role on the team.
  • Procedures for administering tests, if applicable.
  • Consideration of cultural differences in assessment.
  • Strategies for interacting with families.
use of interpreters 1
Use of Interpreters (1)
  • Prior to the meeting, discuss the questions that will be asked with the interpreter.
  • Interpreters should sit as close as possible to family members.
  • Introduce family to everyone at the meeting.
  • Speak in short units and avoid slang and professional jargon.
  • Encourage the interpreter to translate the family’s words without paraphrasing them.
use of interpreters 2
Use of Interpreters (2)
  • Look at the family rather than the interpreter when speaking.
  • Observe the nonverbal behaviors of the family during the interview.
  • Allow opportunities for family members to ask questions.
  • Provide written information (translated) when appropriate.
  • Tape record the interview if the family is comfortable.
observation of interpretation session
Observe the interpreter to prevent the following problems:

Prompting or giving clues

Using too many words

Giving directions that are too brief or too complicated

Over- or under-using reinforcement

Recording assessment data incorrectly, if applicable.

Observe the student for the following behaviors:

Response delays

Uses of gestures to replace words

False starts, word repetitions, perseveration


Inattention, distractibility

Language and articulation disorders

Observation of Interpretation Session
responsibilities of cst member in use of interpreters
Responsibilities of CST Member in Use of Interpreters
  • Allow interpreter to only complete the activities for which training has been provided.
  • Show the interpreter how to use the tests and allow time to organize materials, read instructions and clarify areas of concern.
  • Provide the interpreter with background information about the student who is to be tested.
  • Debrief with the interpreter after the session.
  • Ensure that the interpreter does not protect the student by hiding the extent of the limitations/disabilities.
assessment modifications
Assessment Modifications
  • Administer test according to protocol and score it.
  • Re-administer with the following modifications:
    • Remove time limits
    • Vary the mode of response (read test questions to check receptive language; oral responses)
    • Translation/Interpreters
    • Simplification of language
    • Dynamic assessment: test; teach; retest
  • Re-score and compare
    • Difference in score indicates 2nd language acquisition process
    • No difference – possible learning disability
intelligence cognition
  • Must be conducted in the student’s most proficient language. (if NA consider nonverbal + informal measures).
  • If not clearly proficient in one language, consider assessing in both languages.
  • If very young, a developmental scale may be used.
academic evaluation
Academic Evaluation
  • An English evaluation should be attempted if English instruction has been given for 1+ years.
  • If student has received native language instruction within a reasonable time period (1-2 years); a native language evaluation should be conducted.
  • If native language assessment is NA, a functional assessment can provide information about student’s ability
njac 6a 14 3 4 evaluation
NJAC 6A:14-3.4 Evaluation

(d) An initial evaluation shall consist of a multi-disciplinary assessment in all areas of suspected disability. Such evaluation shall include assessment by at least two members of the child study team and other specialists in the area of disability as required or as determined necessary. Each evaluation of the student shall:

1. Include, where appropriate, or required, the use of a standardized test(s) which shall be:

i. Individually administered;

ii. Valid and reliable;

iii. Normed on a representative population; and

iv. Scored as either standard score with standard deviation or norm referenced scores with a cutoff score;

2. Include functional assessment of academic performance and, where appropriate, behavior.

functional assessment both languages
Functional AssessmentBoth languages
  • Authentic assessment in the classroom
  • Curriculum-based assessment
  • Dynamic assessment – evaluate performance over time
  • Questionnaires from various staff members
  • Portfolio assessment
  • Evaluate communication holistically and across settings
  • Use natural language samples
speech and language
Speech and Language
  • Speech pathologists must use procedures, modifications and tests appropriate for diagnosis and appraisal in the language and speech of child.
  • May include descriptive linguistic analysis
  • Results indicating a language disorder should be handled with care. Language differences must be considered
socio cultural
  • Acculturation pattern
  • Family background/dynamics
    • Separation from parents
  • Educational support at home
  • Previous educational experiences
  • Home country political/economic reality
  • Behavior at home and prior to coming to U.S.
indicators of language difference
Indicators of Language Difference
  • It is normal for ELLs to demonstrate a lower level of English proficiency than their monolingual peers.
  • Second language acquisition follows a developmental course similar to first language acquisition.
  • Language loss is a normal phenomenon when opportunities to hear and use L1 are minimized.
  • Shifting from one language to another within utterances is not necessarily an indicator of language confusion (code switching).
  • It is normal for second language acquirers to experience dysfluencies associated with lack of vocabulary, word finding difficulties and/or anxiety.
indicators of learning disability
Indicators of Learning Disability
  • Difficulty in learning language at a normal rate compared to learners from similar backgrounds, even with special assistance in both languages.
  • Short mean length of utterances (in both languages).
  • Auditory processing problems (e.g. poor memory, poor comprehension).
  • Poor sequencing skills. Communication is disorganized, incoherent and leaves listener confused.
  • Communication difficulties when interacting with peers from a similar background.
  • Lack of organization, structure and sequence in spoken and written language; difficulty conveying thoughts.
report writing
Report Writing
  • Use adapted standardized test information as functional assessment.
report writing43
Report Writing
  • Document conditions of assessment
    • Describe the nature of the bilingual evaluations.
    • Level of evaluation model, language of test and deviations from standardized administration.
    • Language dominance and proficiency results.
    • Relevant behavioral information related to student’s academic functioning.
    • All relevant background information.
njac 6a 14 3 4 evaluation44
NJAC 6A:14-3.4 Evaluation

f) A written report of the results of each assessment shall be prepared. Each written report shall be dated and signed by the individual(s) who conducted the assessment and shall include:…

3. If an assessment is not conducted under standard conditions, the extent to which it varied from standard conditions.

  • 4. When a student is suspected of having a specific learning disability, the documentation of the determination of eligibility shall include a statement of:…
    • vii. The determination concerning the effects of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage;
committee to determine eligibility
Committee to determine eligibility

NJAC:6A:14-3.4 Evaluation:

(a) The child study team, the parent and the regular education teacher of the student who has knowledge of the student’s educational performance or if there is no teacher of the student, a teacher who is knowledgeable about the district’s programs shall:…

njac 6a 14 3 5 determination of eligibility for special education and related services
NJAC 6A:14-3.5 Determination of eligibility for special education and related services

(b) In making a determination of eligibility for special education and related services, a student shall not be determined eligible if the determinant factor is due to a lack of instruction in reading or math or due to limited English proficiency.

eligibility and iep development
The committee determines eligibility:

Reviews all data.

Determines if child has a legally defined disability.

Provides assurances that the determinant factor of the student’s problems are not primarily the result of language, culture or not having the opportunity to learn.

The committee develops the IEP:

Includes present level of performance: L1 and L2

Annual goals for L1 and L2 (if applicable).

Amount of time in each setting and duration of services

Evaluation criteria

Persons responsible for implementation

Strategies appropriate to disability and language and culture.

Eligibility and IEP Development
njac 6a 14 3 7 individualized education program
NJAC 6A:14-3.7 Individualized education program

(c) When developing the IEP, the IEP team shall:

4. In the case of a student with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the student as related to the IEP.

6A:14-6.2 Provision of programs and services provided under N.J.S.A. 18A:46A-1 et seq. and 18A:46-19.1 et seq

(d) English as a second language shall be provided according to N.J.S.A. 18A:46A-2c.

placement and services services in the least restrictive environment that address all needs
Placement and ServicesServices in the least restrictive environment that address all needs
  • Be Creative
  • General education program with ESL and/or inclusion services
  • Bilingual/ESL with inclusion/resource room services
  • Special education with bilingual/ESL services
  • Bilingual Special Education
  • And so on….
tips on co teaching
Tips on Co-teaching
  • Planning is the key.
  • Discuss views on teaching and learning.
  • Discuss testing and grading responsibilities.
  • Attend to details.
  • Prepare parents.
  • Avoid the “paraprofessional trap”
  • When disagreements occur – TALK.
  • Go slowly.
assessment modifications for special needs ells
Assessment Modifications for Special Needs ELLs
  • Allow extra time
  • Reword questions using simplified language
  • Use bilingual dictionary or translation of items.
  • Change percentage of work required for passing grade.
  • Use rubric to grade student’s work.
  • Refer to modifications on IEP.

Every day an old man walked a beach with a pail, picking up starfish that had been washed in by the tide, and throwing them back into the sea. One day, a young boy stopped the old man and asked, “ Why do you throw the starfish back ? It doesn’t matter. They will only wash up on the shore again tomorrow?” The old man picked a starfish out of his pail, threw it as far as he could into the sea, and replied, “It mattered to that one.”


Cross-cultural Developmental Education Services

Dr. Catherine Collier info @ crosscultured.com

The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt) A. Artiles, Vanderbilt University and J. Klingner, University of CO at Boulder www.Nccrest.org

CEC Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learnerswww.cec.sped.org

Center for Applied Linguistics www.cal.org

National Literacy Panel www.cal.nlp

Office English Language Acquisition www.ed.gov/offices/oela


Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services


National Institute of Child Health and Human Development


Intercultural Development Research Association


National Association of Bilingual Education www.nabe.org

New Jersey Administrative Code for

Special Education and Bilingual Education


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  • Echevarria, J, Vogt, M., Short, D. (2000). Making Content Comprehensible for

English Language Learners: The siop model. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn &


  • Gersten, R. & Jimenez, R (Eds.) (1998). Promoting learning for culturally and

linguistically diverse students. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth

  • Langdon, H (2000). Factors affecting special education services for ELLs with suspected language learning disabilities. Multiple Voices, 5 (1). 66-82.
  • Mattes, L. & Omark, D. (1984). Speech and language assessment for the bilingual handicapped. San Diego: College Hill Press.
  • Ortiz, A. & Ramirez, B. (Eds.) (1998). Schools and the culturally diverse exceptional student:Promising practices and future directions. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.
  • Ovando, C. & Collier, V. (1998). Bilingual and ESL Classrooms: Teaching in multicultural contexts. Boston: McGraw-Hill
  • Roseberry-McKibbin, (1995). Multicultural students with special language needs.
  • Tharp, R. et al. (2000). Teaching transformed: Achieving excellence, fairness, inclusion and harmony. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Thomas, W. & Collier, V. (1997). School effectiveness for language minority students. Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.
  • Determining appropriate referrals of ELLs to special education: A self assessment guide for principals.Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children