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Regional Educational Laboratory Program

Identifying and Supporting English Learner Students with Learning Disabilities: Key Issues in the Literature and State Practice

While the literature on learning disabilities and on second-language acquisition is relatively extensive within the field of education, less is known about the specific characteristics and representation of English learner students with learning disabilities. Because there are no definitive resources and processes for identifying and determining best placement for English learner students with learning disabilities, schools, districts, and states struggle with this issue. As a result, English learner students who may or may not have learning disabilities are both over- and underrepresented in special education. This report aims to inform policymakers interested in developing procedures, including the use of guidelines and protocols, for identifying, assessing, and placing English learner students who may or may not have learning disabilities. The report describes 1) the key issues discussed in the research literature and 2) current state procedures for the 20 states with the largest English learner populations.
Publication Type:
What's Known
Online Availability:
Publication Date:
July 2015