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.
– Students classified due
to language difference;
• Under-identification
– 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
• (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
• Systemic
• Instructional
• Individual
Response to Intervention Model
• Three Tiered Model
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
• programs that support
• Curriculum as
Thomas-Collier Test for
Equal Educational Opportunity
• Typical size of initial achievement gap between ELL
and native English speakers
25-30 NCE
• Expected NCE gains each year for:
  Typical native English speakers
  Students in a typical ELL program
  Students in an effective ELL program
  Students in an outstanding ELL program
0 NCEs
1-3 NCEs
4-6 NCEs
7-9 NCEs
• Does your ELL instructional program close the
achievement gap and keep it closed in later years?
• Profile
– Gather relevant data
Attendance/educational gaps
Assessment of L1
Length of time in district/country
Achievement in both languages
Family dynamics
Cultural characteristics
All teachers use instructional strategies effective for ELLs.
Research-Based Effective Models:
Reading First Initiatives
CREDE’s 5 pedagogical standards
Sheltered Instruction
Observation Protocol (SIOP)
1. Lesson Planning
2. Building Background
3. Comprehensible Input
4. Strategies
5. Interaction
6. Practice/Application
7. Lesson Delivery
8. Review/Assessment
Echevarria, Vogt & Short (2002)
Reading First Initiative
• Vocabulary
• Text Comprehension
• Phonemic awareness
• Phonics instruction
• Fluency
• Motivation
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
School climate of collaboration,
strong leadership, and evidence
of commitment;
High quality professional
School partnerships.
Center for Research in Excellence,
Diversity & Education (CREDE)
• Five pedagogical standards:
– Joint productive activity.
– Developing language and literacy across the
– Making meaning: connecting school to
students’ lives.
– Teaching complex thinking.
– Teaching through instructional conversation.
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.
The 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.
* Consultation (PAC/I&RS)
Gather relevant data from initial profile
Gather current data
Classroom observations (effective use of strategies; appropriate
* 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
• Intra-personal
– Age
– Motivation
– Degree of L1
– Attitude toward target
language community
– Tolerance of learner for
own errors
• External
– Amount of exposure
– Manner of acquisition
– Availability of
language models
– Attitude of target
language community
– Tolerance of errors by
the community.
Normal Processes of Second
Language Acquisition
Silent Period
Code switching
Language Loss
Language Loss
An individual’s change from the habitual use of one language
to the habitual use of another.
• Language Loss symptoms resemble monolingual
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
• 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
• 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?
• If no,
– Develop supportive plan in general education
• If yes,
– Determine and document dominant
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
• Some suggestions of
– LAS, IPT, BVAT, Brigance
– If tests are unavailable in
student’s native language,
use informal assessment
measures (language
sample, oral story retelling,
evaluation of receptive
Language Dominance and
Proficiency (2)
If L1 dominant, consider English language skills in
If English dominant, consider L1 in cognitive
If bilingual with no clear dominance, assess in both
Assessment personnel complete the comprehensive individual
• 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
NJAC 6A:14-2.4
Native 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
• Have excellent bilingual communication
• Be able to relate to members of the cultural
• Understand their ethical responsibilities.
• Act in a professional manner.
• Be TRAINED for their roles.
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
• Strategies for interacting with families.
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)
• Look at the family rather than the interpreter when
• Observe the nonverbal behaviors of the family
during the interview.
• Allow opportunities for family members to ask
• Provide written information (translated) when
• Tape record the interview if the family is
Observation of
Interpretation Session
• Observe the interpreter to
prevent the following
– Prompting or giving clues
– Using too many words
– Giving directions that are
too brief or too complicated
– Over- or under-using
– Recording assessment data
incorrectly, if applicable.
• Observe the student for
the following behaviors:
– Response delays
– Uses of gestures to replace
– False starts, word
repetitions, perseveration
– Confusion
– Inattention, distractibility
– Language and articulation
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
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
– No difference – possible learning disability
• 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
• 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
(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
• Authentic assessment in the classroom
• Curriculum-based assessment
• Dynamic assessment – evaluate performance over
• Questionnaires from various staff members
• Portfolio assessment
• Evaluate communication holistically and across
• Use natural language samples
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
• 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
Indicators of Language
• 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
• It is normal for second language acquirers to experience
dysfluencies associated with lack of vocabulary, word
finding difficulties and/or anxiety.
Indicators of Learning
• Difficulty in learning language at a normal rate compared to learners
from similar backgrounds, even with special assistance in both
• Short mean length of utterances (in both languages).
• Auditory processing problems (e.g. poor memory, poor
• Poor sequencing skills. Communication is disorganized, incoherent
and leaves listener confused.
• Communication difficulties when interacting with peers from a similar
• Lack of organization, structure and sequence in spoken and written
language; difficulty conveying thoughts.
Report Writing
• Use adapted
standardized test
information as
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
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
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
(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
– 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
• The committee develops the
– Includes present level of
performance: L1 and L2
– Annual goals for L1 and L2 (if
– Amount of time in each setting
and duration of services
– Evaluation criteria
– Persons responsible for
– Strategies appropriate to disability
and language and culture.
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.
Placement and Services
Services 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
• Special education with bilingual/ESL services
• Bilingual Special Education
And so on….
Collaborative Teaching
Important functional
Complementary Two lessons are taught:
functional (metacognitive) skills are modeled and
and content
practiced within class
Instruction is provided
Uses each
alternately by each teacher. professional’s strength.
Opportunity for staff
Specialist develops
specialized instruction,
grouping or practice
Enhancement is
incorporated in future
lessons. Students are
A small group is taught
separately within the
Teachers can
informally observe
each others’ activities.
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.
Instructional adaptations for
students with special needs
Mastery of key
Show a model of end
Provide alternative Reduce visual
books with same
content; easier
Arrange a check-in time
to organize the day.
Use marker to highlight Provide audiotapes Seat student close
important information
of textbooks
to teacher or
helpful peer.
Arrange for time-out
space and permission to
leave room
Use computer and/or
Use visuals and
Provide two sets of Provide visual
books: home and
cues for routines
and tasks.
Be aware of behavioral
changes related to
medication and time of
Use a study guide.
Adapt reading
Develop individualized
Give directions in
small steps.
Assessment Modifications for
Special Needs ELLs
• Allow extra time
• Reword questions using simplified language
• Use bilingual dictionary or translation of
• 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
CEC Division for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse
Exceptional Learners
Center for Applied Linguistics
National Literacy Panel
Office English Language Acquisition
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Intercultural Development Research Association
National Association of Bilingual Education
New Jersey Administrative Code for
Special Education and Bilingual Education
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Effective Assessment Practices of English Language