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English Language Learners: Conducting Special Education Assessments . Jane E. Minnema, Ph.D. University of Minnesota minne006@umn.edu National Center on Educational Outcomes http://education.umn.edu/NCEO. Plan for the Workshop. Getting Started! Early team work

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english language learners conducting special education assessments

English Language Learners: Conducting Special Education Assessments

Jane E. Minnema, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota


National Center on Educational Outcomes


plan for the workshop
Plan for the Workshop
  • Getting Started!

Early team work

“Other” language considerations

ELL & disability confusion

~ Q & A ~

  • Quick Break!
  • Doing the Assessment!

10 Principles for Assessment

ELL considerations

Disability vs. language delay

~ Q & A ~

first steps
First steps
  • Work as a team
  • Understand pertinent cultures
  • Put Federal and State law in context
  • Adapt special education process
  • List tasks  Create a plan
  • Work independently to …
  • Create materials and to …
  • Share, share, share information!
cultural understandings
Cultural Understandings
  • Access printed information – Internet, libraries, community groups
  • Cultural representatives –restaurants, festivals, presentations
  • Create staff materials
cheng 1991 cautions
Cheng (1991) cautions …

“Not all people from the same culture have the same values and beliefs; there are tremendous individual differences. For this reason, it is necessary to be extremely careful when making cultural assumptions. Nevertheless, an awareness of the general cultural and linguistic values of … minority populations is an essential tool …”

laws and criteria
Laws and Criteria
  • Federal Rule: Observation

(At least one team member … observe the child …classroom setting.)

e.g., by second language expert

  • MN Interpretation of Federal Rule

(Assessment data …different settings.)

e.g., second language classroom

diversity is
Diversity is …
  • Race or ethnicity
  • Culture (religion, family, beliefs, dress, food, communication, health care, education)
  • Reasons for moving to U.S. (immigrant or refugee)
  • Socioeconomic (before U.S., in U.S., unemployment, underemployment, over employment, family stress)
culturally relevant terms
Culturally Relevant Terms
  • Acculturation – assumes American cultural attributes (language, norms, behaviors, and values)
  • Assimilation – incorporation into social and cultural networks of host society by giving up native culture
related issues
Related Issues
  • Generational issues
  • Broad continuum of development
  • Uneven process
  • Constantly changing
terms for students
Terms for Students
  • Limited English Proficient (LEP)
  • English language learner (ELL)
  • English as a second language (ESL)
  • Culturally & linguistically diverse (CLD)
issues raised
Issues Raised
  • No common term used
  • Terms lack specificity
  • No “person first” language in ELL
  • Confuse students and services
terms for services
Terms for Services
  • English as a second language
  • Bilingual education
  • Content-based instruction
  • Common practice in LA?
issues raised16
Issues Raised
  • Multiple models across states
  • Service delivery varies within states
  • Practice does not match research

- Content-based instruction most effective

language terms
Language Terms
  • L1 – native language
  • L2 – can be English
  • Mulitilingual, bilingual, monolingual
  • Pidgins or creoles – fusion of two or more languages over time
  • Code-switching – controlled blending of languages that is rule-bound and meaningful
modes of cross communication
Modes of Cross-Communication
  • Interpretation – Oral presentation of non-native language
  • Translation – Written presentation of non-native language
language influence
Language Influence
  • L1 influences L2

- Stronger L1 is, the better L2 will be.

- Vocabulary, syntax, semantics

  • May formalize into pidgins, creoles, or social dialects
  • Code-switching during L2 acquisition
native language loss
Native Language Loss
  • L1 regress or lost
  • L1 speaking regresses more than L1 understanding
  • Stopping L1 has negative cognitive effects on L2
  • Home language models may not be fluent in L1 or L2
english language learning
English Language Learning
  • L1 literacy level and education
  • Time in U.S.
  • Time in U.S. schools
  • SES
  • Family situation
  • Language models at home
  • Health factors
  • Student motivation, time, and ability
english language learning levels
English Language Learning Levels
  • Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS)
  • Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP)
  • Social, concrete, here and now
  • NOT used for academics
  • Takes 2-4 years (easier for < 8 yr)
  • Everyday pronunciation proficiency
  • Grammar (simple declarative sentences, questions, colloquialisms)
  • Vocabulary about 500 words
examples of bics
Examples of BICS
  • Listening: Follows general classroom directions.
  • Speaking: Converses with peers and teachers. May speak without accent.
  • Reading: Decode easily.
  • Writing: Completes school forms. Find and copy answers to textbook questions.
  • Proficient in decontextualized language and academic settings (inferences, predictions, abstractions)
  • Manipulate language outside of immediate personal setting
  • Has literacy
  • Vocabulary +5000 words
  • If literate in L1, 5-7 years. If not, 6-9 years. Some may never acquire.
examples of calp
Examples of CALP
  • Listening: Follow directions for academic tasks. Understands discussion of academic material. Knows main idea from supporting.
  • Speaking: Expresses reasons for opinions. Asks for clarification during academic tasks.
  • Reading: Comprehension good.
  • Writing: Can write essay supporting a point of view.
language vs disability
Language vs. Disability ??
  • Teachers expect more when BICS acquired.
  • LD concern when academics not progressing
  • BUT … CALP still developing!
caution teachers
Caution Teachers!
  • Speaking English conversationally well, but not using well academically is NORMAL!
  • NOT a reason to suspect disability.
  • Student at BICS level without CALP should still receive ESL services.
shared by native speakers with ld and english learners
Shared by Native Speakers with LD and English Learners
  • Non-speaking
  • Slow to respond
  • Knew something yesterday but not today
  • Low vocabulary
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Retains information poorly
  • Below grade level spelling, math, reading
  • Limited attention span
  • Poor visual memory
  • Low frustration tolerance
shared by native speakers with bd and cld students
Shared by Native Speakers with BD and CLD Students
  • Differences in:

- personal space

- eye gaze

- response time

- body language

- vocal pitch and intensity

- conversational rules

10 Principles for Assessing ELLs and Determining Eligibility for Special Education Services

Elizabeth Watkins, MDOE, 2000

St. Paul Public Schools LEP Resource Team, 1998

Meredith Boo, Bloomington Schools, MN, 2001

Berry (1080); Collier & Collier (2003, 1985); Fradd & McGee (1994); Ortiz (2003; 1992); Wilkinson (2003)

1 examine school environment
#1 – Examine School Environment
  • C & I meeting all students’ needs?
  • Meeting all ELL needs?
  • ELL disproportionate representation?

- Over-representation?

- Under-representation?

2 resources for assessment
#2 – Resources for Assessment
  • At district and building level
  • Identify who and what
  • Access training
3 involve cultural informants
#3 – Involve Cultural Informants
  • Language teachers (ESL or bilingual)
  • Cultural representatives – FAMILY!
  • Community outreach workers
  • ALL stages of assessment -

Pre-referral through IEP!

4 prereferral interventions background information
#4 – Prereferral Interventions & Background Information
  • First, exclude English learning or instructional issue
  • Involve English language teacher
  • Student and environmental factors impacts on English learning
4a excluding english learning
#4a – Excluding English Learning
  • L1 and English language data:

- ESL history

- Language development

- Home and native language(s)

- Language status

  • L1 and L2 use and proficiency
  • ESL records
  • Direct and indirect assessments
l1 language assessment
L1 Language Assessment
  • Do anytime!
  • Direct: standardized language testing, conversational sample, story retelling task, dictation task, story telling task, home visit, observations
  • Indirect: parent interview, parent report, home visit, observation
types of communicators
Types of Communicators
  • L1 monolingual
  • Partial bilingual
  • Developing bilingual
  • L1 receptive
  • nonstandard English speaker
  • English monolingual
  • Bilingual with code switching
  • Limited due to disabiity
4b excluding instructional issues
#4b – Excluding Instructional Issues
  • Best teaching approach thematic
  • One stage above English proficiency level
  • Looking for 2 year gap:

- Compared to ELL peers

- Disability in native language / native environment

- Physical/health disability

three ways to exclude language and instruction
Three Ways to Exclude Language and Instruction
  • Know “general” expectations
  • Know recommended ELL practices
  • Pre-referral Interventions

- Adapt mainstream instruction

- Academic techniques

general expectations
“General” Expectations
  • 1st or 2nd grade academically with 2-3 years of English instruction
  • Average ELL - 10-12 years to reach 50th %ile on group achievement test
  • Longer if no academics in L1
research recommended ell practices
Research “Recommended” ELL Practices
  • Learn English through content material
  • Active in concrete activities related to content objective
  • Acquire concepts when comprehend English (simplify or bilingual support)
  • Retain when use in multiple authentic situations
  • Supportive, stress free environment
  • Link prior knowledge to new content
research on practice cont
Research on Practice (cont.)
  • Use collaborative meaning making process

- Learn faster when interact with peers

  • Comprehension dependent on background knowledge

- Read and comprehend with experience

  • Textbooks challenge ELLs

- Multimodal support beyond level of language comprehension

  • Culture important to affective and cognitive development

- RESPECT native culture and language

pre referral intervention adapting mainstream instruction
Pre-referral Intervention – Adapting Mainstream Instruction
  • Pair oral and written instructions
  • Key points in writing
  • Simplify English, NOT concepts
  • Many visuals
  • Modify teacher expectations:

- Identify core material

- Re-teach many times differently

  • Teach both language and content:

- Assignments in both

- Grade progress in both

pre referral interventions cont
Pre-referral Interventions (cont.)
  • Talk slower, NOT louder!
  • Use body language
  • Seek bilingual help cheerfully (another student, bilingual para, etc.)
  • Use interpreter or translator (tape or video for future use)
  • Student kept vocabulary booklet:

- Writing assignments

- For credit/grading

pre referral interventions cont46
Pre-referral Interventions (cont.)
  • Vary complexity of questions
  • Encourage any effort!
  • Extend, elaborate, and paraphrase without correcting
  • Allow extra time
  • Talk about what matters to ELL
  • Create literate classroom environment (see and hear variety)
pre referral interventions academic techniques
Pre-referral Interventions – Academic Techniques
  • Reduce number of problems
  • Highlight key information
  • Remove pages from text or booklet
  • Outline key ideas at academic level
  • Tape record to read along
  • Read aloud tests/quizzes
  • Tape record tests/quizzes
  • Construction paper “reading windows”
pre referral interventions academic techniques cont
Pre-referral Interventions – Academic Techniques (cont.)
  • Simplify written directions
  • Tape record directions
  • Cooperative learning/peer assistance
  • More time tests/quizzes
  • Use assignment calendar or notebook
  • Use manipulatives
  • Rearrange problems on page
  • Use graph paper (math, handwriting)
5 time to learn english
#5 – Time to Learn English
  • Typically 1-2 years for BICS and acculturation
  • Only refer within 1st year if:

- Family very concerned

- At-risk due to background

- Language teacher reports significant difference from other ELLs

6 plan and complete multiple assessment procedures
#6 – Plan and Complete Multiple Assessment Procedures
  • Determine assessment domains
  • Plan for language use:

- Language dominance

- L1 and L2 proficiency

  • Arrange for interpreter
  • Use stronger language generally
  • Assess content in language of instruction
assessment procedures cont
Assessment Procedures (cont.)
  • Test procedures & directions in L1
  • Accept L1 and L2 responses
  • Check test for bias (norms and items)
  • Modify and adapt standardized instruments
  • Supplement with criterion-referenced, curriculum-based, or other informal measures
assessment procedures cont52
Assessment Procedures (cont.)
  • Supplemental assessments:
  • Teacher ratings/checklists
  • Student self-ratings
  • Work progress records
  • Portfolio work samples
  • Dialogue journals
  • Naturalistic or planned observations
  • Oral interviews and role plays
  • Story retelling
  • Semantic maps
  • Dictations
  • Writing samples
modifying norm referenced tests
Modifying Norm-Referenced Tests
  • Administer some subtests
  • Eliminate, modify, or mark biased items
  • Allow extra time
  • Give additional demonstrations, attempts for ability to master
  • Test/retest for growth
  • Test/retest in L1 and L2
modify scoring and interpretation
Modify Scoring and Interpretation
  • Allow variations in responding

- Verbal or nonverbal

- Label function rather than object

  • Allow for language, dialect, or experience differences
  • Score “by the book” and again with modifications
  • Report scores as range or estimate
  • Compare to ELL peers instead of norms
  • Analyze data for patterns related to culture or background experiences
use disclaimer

“This test has not been normed on members of this student’s ethnic group. Therefore, it is inappropriate to compute or report derived scores. However, the results of this test provide information useful for intervention planning.”

Name of Interpreter used: _________


ld assessment procedures iq
LD Assessment Procedures - IQ
  • Use two IQ instruments
  • UNIT recommended; CTONI 2nd choice
  • Can use WISC performance, but not verbal score - NOT for discrepancy
  • Woodcock Johnson with adaptations for academic assessment - Do NOT use regression chart. Use non-verbal IQ for criterion score.
ld assessment procedures processing
LD Assessment Procedures - Processing
  • To document information processing difficulties:

- Only if occur in home and school environments

  • Not those characteristics shared by ELLs and students with LD
ld assessment procedures culturally based reading behaviors
LD Assessment Procedures – Culturally-based Reading Behaviors
  • Basic reading skills that are difficult:
  • Reading out loud
  • Mispronunciations
  • Moving from visual to auditory cues (& vice versa)
  • Better in group or with family member
  • Slow reading rate
  • Learning better within game
  • Poor word attack
ld assessment procedures culturally based reading behaviors59
LD Assessment Procedures – Culturally-based Reading Behaviors
  • Comprehension skills that are difficult:
  • Interpretive questions
  • Sequencing
  • Facts from inferences
  • If … then conclusions
  • Some concepts (time in particular)
  • Written formal language
  • Consequences
7 determine eligibility
#7 – Determine Eligibility
  • Review data beginning with native language, family background, school history
  • Describe all adaptations
  • Include cautionary language (norms, test validity)
  • Include descriptive data, family data, supplemental testing, other sources
  • Professional judgment in reporting scores
  • Rule out English language as PRIMARY cause
  • Rule out instruction as PRIMARY cause
8 due process
#8 – Due Process
  • Informed consent in parents’ native language if needed
  • Use trained interpreter
  • Research shows parents not understanding due process even when presented in native language
9 develop iep
#9 – Develop IEP
  • Use direct and indirect assessment data to develop goals and objectives
  • Also use all data on language and culture
  • English language teacher as team member
10 review student progress
#10 – Review Student Progress
  • Repeat Principles 1 through 9 as needed
  • Need not be formal assessment or annual review
  • Make adjustments as needed
tips for using interpreters
Tips for Using Interpreters
  • Meet before assessment
  • Explain assessment process
  • Demonstrate any tasks
  • Make purpose and information needed very clear
  • Obtain exact interpretation
  • Opinions and impressions afterwards
  • Interpreter rapport with student before