English Language
Learners: Academic
Experience, Pre-referral and
Assessment Best Practices
Martha Villegas-Gutiérrez, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
Education Evaluation Center
The Teaching Research Institute
Western Oregon University
Case Review
 Reflection: ELL Students academic
 Demographics
 ELL Identification
Objectives (Cont.)
Important Considerations
 Language
 ELL Instructional Programming Research
 Linguistic Needs
 Acculturation
 ELL Pre-Referral
Language Proficiency Assessment
 Formal Assessment Practices
 Learning Disability Possibility
 Language Difference Possibility
 Summary and Recommendations
Case Review
1st grade, monolingual/Spanish, male student referred for an evaluation due to
“being significantly behind in all areas”
Areas of Concern:
Problem Solving
Organization Skills
Speaking Skills
Concentration/paying attention
 Communication Skills
Passing classes.
IDEIA 300.534 Determination of Eligibility
-A Child may not be determined to be eligible under this part if
the determinant factor for that eligibility determination is
(i) Lack of instruction in reading or math;
 (ii) Limited English Proficiency
Actividad en Español
Tome cinco minutos para contestar las siguientes
¿Cuál es su nombre?
¿Cuál es su profesión?
Describa su preparación y experiencia profesional
para trabajar con estudiantes clasificados como
aprendices del inglés o ELL (por sus siglas en inglés).
¿Tiene usted alguna pregunta con respecto a los
procesos de referir y evalualar estudiantes clasificados
como ELL para educación especial?
Know Thy Self
Cultural Background
 Language
 Language Modality (Verbal, Nonverbal)
ELL Demographics
Limited English Proficient Students will constitute 40% of
students in public education by 2030 (Thomas and
Collier, 2003)
1997-98 to 2008-09 English-language learners enrolled
in public schools increased from 3.5 million to 5.3
million, or by 51 percent
(National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition,
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD)
Non-English-proficient (NEP)
Limited-English-Proficient (LEP)
English Language Learners (ELL)
ELL Identification
Home Language Survey
 English Proficiency Screening (State
Special Ed. Identification
-Students classified due to language difference (Diana
V. California Board of Education)
-delay in referring student due to possibility of
**ELL with real special education needs are not being
Important Considerations
Language Acquisition: CLD children’s
knowledge and learning is based on the
language spoken at home.
 Home language and Children’s culture
communicate traditions, values, and
**Encourage parents to use and develop children’s home language to
enhance children’s learning and development.
This belief that “young” children will be
confused by two languages is a myth
and is not supported by research.
- R. Banerjee & M. Guiberson (2012) Young
Exceptional Children, p. 37.
Language Proficiency
Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) are
skills used in day to day interactions with others.
I.E., playground conversations between children and
informal verbal interactions with a parent, a friend or a
ELL need an average of one to three years of
exposure to the second language to reach appropriate
levels of conversational proficiency with peers.
(Cummins, 2004).
Language Proficiency
Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) is the
ability to use and understand complex linguistic meaning
in verbal or written communication.
I.E., engaging in sophisticated, intellectual conversations
or writing school essays.
ELL need five to seven years, on average, to reach
peer-appropriate grade norm levels in academic areas
taught in a second language (Cummins, 2004).
The Second Language Acquisition
The second language acquisition process
is a complex, and lifelong process similar
to first language acquisition.
 Second language acquisition is best
developed by exposure to meaningful
activities that focus on language use.
(Collier, 1995).
The Second language acquisition
Children of low social economic background or
those whose parents have not had the
opportunity to receive formal schooling are those
most in danger of lost years of cognitive
development due to an early switch to the
second language in preschool.
Wong Fillmore, 1991
Language and Identity:
Language is an important marker of one’s
identity. For young language learners and
school age children, language is a
fundamental part of the social world they
have grown up in. To disallow a child to use
her language for self expression is to diminish
her as an individual.
Genesee, Paradis, Crago 2004
Language and Identity:
“What is lost when children and parents cannot
communicate easily with one another? What
is lost is no less than the means by which
parents socialize their children: When
parents are unable to talk to their children,
they cannot easily convey to them their
values, beliefs, understandings or wisdom
about how to cope with experiences.”
Wong Fillmore, 1991
Individual Differences in English
Silent period (six or more months)
Code Switching/Code Mixing (Me voy a poner my
Conversational skills acquisition but not truly
Conversational proficiency (developmentally
appropriate receptive and expressive skills)
Factors that Influence the second
language acquisition process
Home and Community Characteristics
 Parental and community attitudes
 Degree of parents’ bilingualism
 Literacy in the home
 Use of mixed languages
 History of Education
 Quality of Schooling in native country
 Languages
 Years in school
 Interruptions in schooling
 Quality of education
 Socio cultural background/Acculturation
The process of adaptation to a new cultural
environment without abandoning native cultural
Acculturation influences family and social
interactions. It also influences cognition,
emotion, and behavior, perceptions, ideologies,
beliefs, values, language use, and other aspects
of human behavior and functioning.
Cuellar & Paniagua, 2000
Integration/Biculturalism: Integrate aspects from both
cultures. Healthiest acculturation outcome
Assimilation: Replacement of home culture and
language by school/new culture and language.
Rejection: Rejection of home/heritage for school/new
culture and language, or rejection of school/new
culture and language for home/heritage culture.
Deculturation: Acceptance of neither home/heritage nor
school/new culture/language.
Effects of Acculturation:
Heightened Anxiety
Confusion in Locus of Control
Silence or unresponsiveness
Response Fatigue
Code Switching
Resistance to Change
Stress Related Behaviors
C. Collier, 2002
Family Acculturation
Family’s Cultural Background
 Cultural Identification to both native and
mainstream culture
 Cultural Family Traditions
 Cultural Educational Beliefs
 Parents’ acculturation pattern
Observations and Interviews
Conduct observations and ask questions to assess
Rhodes, Ochoa and Ortiz (2005)10 Domains:
Language use or language preference.
Social affiliation
Daily living habits
Cultural traditions
Communication style
Interviews and Observation (Cont.)
Cultural identity or cultural pride
Perceived prejudice or discrimination
Generational status
Family socialization
Cultural Values
Professional Training for
working with ELL Students
Language Proficiency
Second Language Acquisition
ELL Pre-Referral Process
Rhodes, Ochoa & Ortiz Prereferral (2005)
EEC Data Gathering
-Parent Questionnaire-lang. dev., hearing,
vision, past or current illness
-School Questionnaire
-File Review
-Student Interview
-Parent Interview
-Teacher Interview
Pre-Referral (Cont.)
-Observations: Classroom, playground,
Pre-Referral Team
Consideration Areas:
General Educational Background History
 Preschool Experiences
 Schooling Factors
 Evaluation Student’s Performance
 Language Considerations
 Family and Cultural Factors
(Rhodes, Ochoa, and Ortiz, 2005)
Language Proficiency Identification
Native Language Proficiency
-Informal Measures (language sample, oral story
retelling, receptive language evaluation)
English Language Proficiency
Formal and Informal Measures
Formal Assessment Language
 Native Language
 Bilingual
 Non-Verbal
Formal Assessment: Multidimensional
Assessment Model for Bilingual Individuals:
Rhodes, Ochoa and Ortiz (2005)
recommended system to determine the
language of formal cognitive and
academic evaluation
Based on Language Proficiency Levels,
Grade Level and Academic Programming
Jesus’ Results
Language Difference Possibility
Difficulties related to:
Typical Second Language Acquisition
 Silent Period
 Code Switching
Difficulties observed Only in Second
language (Student’s oral and literacy skills
are developmentally appropriate in native
Assuming research based, native language
instruction opportunities.
Learning Disability Possibility:
Native language delay or disability history
Assuming Adequate Instruction in Native
 Native language literacy difficulty
 Familial learning disability history
LD Possibility (Cont.)
Specific language weaknesses:
Phonemic awareness in both languages
 History difficulty in spite of research
based, high quality reading intervention
designed for ELL compared to other,
similar English language learners.
Review Formal and Informal
Results Patterns
Informal Assessment: English- word id. and basic sentences.
Spanish-unable to read or write. Can count from 1 to 20.
Formal Language Results: Very Low Expressive skills in both
Spanish and English, Average Receptive skills in both Spanish and
Formal Academic Results (English) reflect
Average Reading Skills (English)
Low Average decoding and calculation skills.
Formal Cognitive Results: High Average Nonverbal Reasoning
ELL Pre-Referral and Assessment Process:
Personal Cultural/Linguistic Background
Professional Training and Experience
Language Proficiency
Second Language Acquisition
Muchas Gracias!
I hope you found this presentation
practical and helpful in addressing the
needs of Oregon’s ELL students.
CrossCultural Developmental Educational Services
Education Evaluation Center, The Teaching Research Institute,
Western Oregon University www.wou.tri.eec
National Center for Cultural and Responsive Educational Systems
(National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition, 2011)
Banerjee, R., Guiberson, M. (2012) Young Exceptional Children, p. 37.
Berry, J. W. (1980). Acculturation as varieties of adaptation. In A.M. Padilla (Ed.).
Acculturation: Theory, models and some new findings (pp.9-25). Boulder, CO:
Westview Press.
Collier, C. (2004). Separating Difference from Disability: Assessing diverse learners
(3rd ed.). Ferndale, Wash.: Cross Cultural Developmental Education Services.
Collier, V. (1995). Promoting academic success for ESL students. Woodside, NY:
Bastos Book Co.
Cummins, J. (2001). Language, Power, and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in the
Genessee, F., Paradis, J., & Crago, M.B. (2004). Dual language development &
Disorders; A handbook on bilingualism and second language learning. Baltimore,
Maryland: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
References (Cont.)
Cuellar, I., Paniagua, F. (Eds.) (2000). Handbook of multicultural mental health:
Assessment and treatment for diverse populations. San Diego, CA: Harcourt
(Academic Press).
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act Revision (Public Law No.
108.446), U.S.C. Section 300.304 (2004).
Rhodes, R. L., Ochoa, S. H. & Ortiz, S.O. (2005). Assessing culturally and
linguistically diverse students. The Gilford Press
Thomas, W. P., Collier, V. (2002). A National study of school effectiveness for
language minority students’ long-term academic achievement. Retrieved Dec. 7,
2006 from http://repositories.cdlib.org/crede/finalrpts/

English Language Learners: Pre