Special Education
Evaluation of English
Language Learners
(ELLs)
Criselda Guajardo Alvarado
Requisite Information and
Considerations Before Special
Education Referral
Second Language Acquisition Process
 Alternative Language Programming


Bilingual Education
 Transitional
Bilingual Education
 Maintenance or Developmental Bilingual Educati
 Two-way Bilingual or Dual Language
ESL pull-out/content
 Newcomer Institutes


Legal Requirements
JIM CUMMINS’ ICEBERG METAPHOR
Conversational Language (1 to 3 years to acquire)
L1
L2
Common Underlying
Proficiency
Academic Language (5 to 7, even up to 10 years to
acquire)

CONVERSATIONAL LANGUAGE
language proficiency in everyday
communication, acquired naturally without
formal schooling; peer-appropriate
conversation.

ACADEMIC LANGUAGE
language proficiency in academic situation,
emerges & becomes distinctive with formal
schooling; classroom-appropriate
language.
FACTORS INFLUENCING 2ND
LANGUAGE LEARNING
General Intellectual Ability
 Motivation
 Personality
 Auditory Memory
 Auditory Discrimination
 Opportunity
 Quality of Instruction
 First Language Skills
 Etc.

SECOND LANGUAGE
ACQUISITION THEORIES

TIME ON TASK THEORY
The amount of exposure to the new language is
directly related to the learning of that language.
THE MORE ENGLISH, THE BETTER ENGLISH

FACILITATION THEORY
The level of development of the first language is
directly related to the learning of the second
language.
THE MORE SPANISH, THE BETTER ENGLISH
Bilingual Conditions
 ADDITIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
The second language is added, while first
language is maintained or developed.
Result: Student becomes literate in native language.
Implication: native language has significant
educational value.
 SUBTRACTIVE
LEARNING
ENVIRONMENT
The first language is not actively maintained or
developed while a second language is introduced.
Result: Student is often not literate in native language.
Implication: native language has little or no
educational value.
Alternative Language
Programs
Early-Exit/Transitional Bil. Ed.
 Late-Exit/Maintenance/Developmental
Bil. Ed.
 Two-Way/Dual Language Bil. Ed.
 English as a Second Language (ESL)
pull-out or content
 Newcomers Institutes

A National Study of School
Effectiveness for
Language Minority Students.
Long-Term
Academic Achievement
Funding from the Center for Research on
Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE)
Principal Investigators:
Wayne P. Thomas, George Mason University
Virginia P. Collier, George Mason University
CREDE Report
Five-year research study (1996-2001)
 Focusing on English language learners.
(ELLs/LEPs) long-term
 Academic achievement in Grades K-12
 Includes qualitative and quantitative research
 Over 80 primary languages were represented in
the student samples
 The total number of student records collected
was 210,054.

OCR v. Denver Public Schools
LEP Students With Disabilities
Language dominance was not
established.
Instead the determination of language
dominance was based on subjective
information regarding the student’s
language use and background. Persons
who determined language dominance
were not necessarily qualified to
administer special education
instruments.
Sometimes LEP students were
evaluated in English only
because school staff persons
decided that the student was
“fluent enough in English”.
Diagnostic testing instruments
that are published in English
were often translated into
other languages for students
who speak another language
Staff persons disregarded
advice of evaluators that
unknown effects of linguistic
differences affect the reliability
and validity of the results and
should be considered when
interpreting test scores.
District failed to ensure that
language-minority student
were not assigned to special
education programs on the
basis of criteria that
essentially measure and
evaluate English-language
skills.
Schools lack special
education staff persons who
are qualified to deliver
recognized alternative
language services.
The District does not pay special
education teachers to receive training in
alternative language service delivery, as
they do alternative language program
teachers in the regular education setting.
Students who met the eligibility
criteria to receive dual services
(alternative language programs
and special education programs)
were not receiving both.
Some LEP students receiving special
education services do not also receive
alternative language services at all
schools. Some LEP students who did
receive alternative language services,
receive less service time when qualified for
special education.
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