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Spotlight on Practice: The English Language Learner. SES Spring 2010. And Special Education. Overview. Referral and Identification Assessment Plans and Procedures Eligibility Considerations IEP Team Meetings Current Issues. ELL in California.

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spotlight on practice the english language learner

Spotlight on Practice:The English Language Learner

SES Spring 2010

AndSpecial Education

  • Referral and Identification
  • Assessment Plans and Procedures
  • Eligibility Considerations
  • IEP Team Meetings
  • Current Issues
ell in california
ELL in California
  • 1.6 million of the 6.25 million California students are considered ELL
  • ELL students speak more than 50 different languages
  • 10-12 percent of ELL students are also students with disabilities
referral and identification
Referral and Identification
  • Who is identified as ELL/LEP?
    • Aged 3-21
    • Enrolled/preparing to enroll in an elementary or secondary school
    • Not born in the U.S. or native language not English
    • And …
referral and identification1


Referral and Identification
  • Who is identified as ELL/LEP?
    • English difficulties sufficient to deny student
      • ability to meet proficiency level on tests;
      • ability to achieve successfully in English-speaking classroom; OR
      • opportunity to participate fully in society
referral and identification2
Referral and Identification
  • “Native language” is defined as:
    • The language normally used by that individual, or, in the case of a child, the language normally used by the parents of the child
    • In all direct contact with a child, the language normally used by the child in the home or learning environment
referral and identification3
Referral and Identification
  • How is a school district notified of second language issues?
    • Home language survey completed
    • If a language other than English is spoken in the home CELDT administered to determine ELL needs
referral and identification4
Referral and Identification
  • Referral of ELL students follows normal process
  • Be sure referral is not based on limited English language acquisition
practice pointer
Practice Pointer

Staff members may want to consult with an ELL teacher prior to referring an ELL student for special education

practice pointer1
Practice Pointer

As with all students with disabilities, make sure that the ELL student’s general education teacher has implemented effective instructional strategies, such as using repetition, paraphrasing, etc., prior to referral

assessment plans
Assessment Plans

Districts must provide a proposed assessment plan in the native language of the parent/guardian --

“unless to do so is clearly not feasible”

assessment plans1
Assessment Plans

“Clearly not feasible” is not defined

practice pointer2
Practice Pointer

Make sure parents of ELL student understand the purpose of special education in the U.S.; this may dispel misconceptions.

assessment plans2
Assessment Plans
  • Districts must include the student’s primary language and language proficiency status on any proposed assessment plan
assessment procedures
Assessment Procedures
  • Assessments
    • Cannot be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis
    • Used for the purposes for which assessments or measures are valid and reliable
    • Administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel
    • Administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments
assessment procedures1
Assessment Procedures
  • Provide and administer assessments and other evaluation materials
    • In the student’s native language
    • In the form most likely to yield accurate information

“unless it is clearly not feasible to so provide or administer”

practice pointer3
Practice Pointer

Review a student’s CELDT and other assessments in listening, speaking, reading, and writing to decide whether English or another language is appropriate

assessment procedures qualified personnel
Assessment ProceduresQualified Personnel
  • Competent in both the oral, or sign language skills, and written skills of the primary language; and
  • Have a knowledge and understanding of the cultural and ethnic background of the student
assessment procedures interpreter
Assessment ProceduresInterpreter
  • If it is not feasible to administer the assessment in the primary language, an interpreter must be used and this condition must be documented in the report
    • Note whether validity may have been affected
    • Include a statement that interpreter administered under supervision of the assessor
practice pointer4
Practice Pointer

Use non-traditional methods to gather assessment information if necessary, such as reviewing student work samples and seeking parental feedback about the student

assessment reports
Assessment Reports
  • Assessment reports must address the effects of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage
  • Particularly important for ELL student to avoid over-identification
assessment reports1
Assessment Reports
  • It is not clear whether districts must provide a written translation of assessment reports
  • However, doing so may help demonstrate that a parent has been fully informed and has had the opportunity to participate in his child’s education
eligibility considerations
Eligibility Considerations
  • Limited English proficiency cannot be the primary determining factor for special education eligibility
  • IEP teams must rule out cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage, and limited English proficiency in determining whether a student has a SLD
iep team meetings
IEP Team Meetings
  • Parent Participation
    • State and federal law contain requirements designed to ensure the participation of parents whose primary language is other than English
  • E.g., notice of IEP team meetings, copies of IEPs to parents, etc.
iep team meetings1
IEP Team Meetings
  • Districts must ensure that parents understand the proceedings of IEP team meetings, including providing an interpreter when necessary
practice pointer5
Practice Pointer

Insure that interpreters have sufficient training to help parents participate in an IEP team meeting, including the ability to translate special education terminology

iep team members
IEP Team Members
  • The IEP team may require particular expertise in ELL issues, such as
    • Staff member who can interpret the results of CELDT testing
    • Staff trained in second language acquisition able to determine and write linguistically appropriate goals
access to eld programs
Access to ELD Programs
  • California law requires that all ELL students, including students with disabilities, have access to ELD programs
  • This is problematic if disability affects second language acquisition
access to eld programs1
Access to ELD Programs
  • If student’s potential for learning a second language is severely limited --

IEP team may consider requesting a parental waiver from an ELD program

iep team meetings2
IEP Team Meetings
  • IEP teams must consider the language needs of the student as those needs relate to his or her IEP
practice pointer6
Practice Pointer

Add the requirement to include linguistically appropriate goals, objectives, programs, and services as a separate agenda item to ensure that the language development needs of the ELL student are discussed

iep team meetings3
IEP Team Meetings
  • IEPs for ELL students must include “linguistically appropriate goals, objectives, programs, and services”
  • This means:
    • Activities which lead to the development of English language proficiency
    • Instructional systems which meet the language development needs of the ELL student
practice pointer7
Practice Pointer

At the IEP team meeting, directly address the need for ELD or bilingual services. Include such issues as:

  • the appropriate school placement to allow access to needed ELD services
  • the appropriate language for speech and language therapy services
  • the need for bilingual aide services
celdt accommodations
CELDT Accommodations
  • The IEP team should consider what accommodations and modifications the student might need to participate in CELDT testing.
  • Students unable to participate in the CELDT with variations, accommodations or modifications may take an alternative assessment
  • These decisions should be documented in the IEP
practice pointer8
Practice Pointer

IEP teams should ask whether a student has a unique educational need to have his special education program delivered in English only, or in another language

oah ell and fape
  • Student v. Los Angeles USD (OAH 2006)
    • 5th grader
    • Eligible under OHI
    • At the initial IEP team meeting, the IEP team discussed ELD based on observations, ELD standards, and assessments of Student’s work
    • IEP team designed a program to meet his unique needs in the area of ELD
    • District prevailed on all issues heard
    • The fact that District discussed ELD and that ELD was a component of Student’s program likely added to the weight of the evidence in the District’s favor
oah ell and fape1
  • Clovis USD v. Student (OAH 2009)
    • 12-year-old boy
    • Eligible under autism
    • Parents alleged that District failed to include ELD goals and ELD program in IEP
    • OAH found in favor of District
    • ALJ stated that “ELL standards are state-mandated and, once Student was assessed and determined to still be eligible for ELD services, they were provided pursuant to the state mandate, irrespective of whether he had an IEP”
oah ell and fape2
  • Student v. Rialto USD (SEHO 2002)


    • Six-year-old girl
    • Eligible under speech and language
    • Parents alleged that she was not receiving appropriate ELD academic support because her IEP did not include any ELD goals
    • District argued that she received appropriate ELD services and that ELD services had no bearing on her special education program
oah ell and fape3


    • SEHO agreed with the District
    • SEHO found that student’s status as an ELL student and placement in an ELD program was unrelated to any disability
    • Her IEP, therefore, did not require any goals related to her participation in the ELD program

(Student v. Rialto USD (SEHO 2002).)

practice pointer9
Practice Pointer

Just because a student is identified as an ELL student and participates in an ELD program does not mean that she must have IEP goals related to her participation in the ELD program. This is an IEP team decision.

current issues
Current Issues
  • Data Collection and Analysis
    • ELL students are the fastest growing subgroup of children in the public schools
    • Little data, however, exists regarding the link between ELL and special education students
current issues1
Current Issues
  • Improper Designation
    • Approximately 3 out of 4 ELL students in special education are improperly placed
    • In order to identify whether proper disability identification for ELL students is occurring, school districts need access to data highlighting the link between ELL and special education students
current issues2
Current Issues
  • Communication and Collaboration Between Special Education and EL Staff
    • IEP teams need an understanding
      • Not only of individual students’ language needs
      • But also of how the student might be included in state-mandated ELD instruction
current issues3


Current Issues
  • Communication and Collaboration Between Special Education and EL Staff
    • Districts may want to consider policies
      • Ensuring staff trained in ELD instruction and services are members of IEP teams
      • Promoting ELD training for special education staff