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Guidance Manuals for Educators of English Learners with Disabilities — December 2018

Question

Could you provide updated information on the states and districts with guidance manuals on English learners with disabilities?

Response

Nine states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia) and two localities in California (San Diego Unified School District and the California SELPA Administrators Association), have produced comprehensive guidance manuals to assist educators in accurately identifying and supporting English learner (EL) students with suspected disabilities. We provide research and information from these manuals, below.

We have not done an evaluation of the methodological rigor of the research behind these manuals, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Education, Special Education and the Southeast Regional Resource Center, Auburn University. (2003). Arkansas state guidelines on nondiscriminatory assessment and addressing educational needs of English language learners with disabilities. Little Rock, AR and Montgomery, AL: Author. Available from http://arkedu.state.ar.us/commemos/static/fy0304/attachments/ELLSTATEGUIDELINES_.pdf

From the manual: “Because of the increased number of students in Arkansas whose primary language spoken in the home is not English, a need exists for the development of state guidelines

on appropriate identification of and educational intervention for English language learners (ELL) and bilingual students with disabilities. The purpose of these state guidelines is to set forth the best practices in the identification/assessment, curriculum, and teaching methodology to address the educational needs of language minority students in Arkansas public schools. This document provides strategies that can be used regardless of a student’s race, ethnicity, or primary language. The guidelines address the appropriate use of school personnel, as well as effective parent participation.

The manual includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Nondiscriminatory Assessment of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students
    • Culture and Acculturation
    • The Pre-referral Process
  • Understanding First and Second Language Acquisition and Language Assessment
  • Use of Translators and/or Interpreters
  • The Formal Evaluation Process
    • Assessment Results and Report Writing
    • Multicultural Considerations in IEP Development
  • Language Considerations in Designing Instruction
    • Designing Instruction to Build on Existing Skills
    • Supporting Second Language Development for ELLs with Language and Learning Problems
    • Instructional Strategies
  • References
  • Appendices
  1. Sample Multicultural Case History Questions
  2. Examining Emergent Literacy Skills
  3. Checklist for Pre-referrals and Referrals
  4. The Second Language Learner’s Task
  5. General Guidelines for Distinguishing Language
  6. Differences from Disorders
  7. Evaluation Continuum and Assessment
  8. Tests to Assess Language Proficiency/Dominance Approved by the Arkansas State Department of Education for Use in School Districts
  9. Student Interview
  10. Sample Report”

Connecticut

Connecticut Administrators of Programs for English Language Learners (CAPELL) and the Connecticut State Department of Education. (2011). English language learners and special education: A resource handbook. Hartford, CT: Author. Available from https://ctserc.org/documents/resources/CT-ELL-and-Special-Education.pdf

From the manual: “The purpose of this resource book is to provide educators with information that will:

  • Explain the process and developmental stages of second language acquisition
  • Promote a collaborative approach among teachers, administrators, and other personnel involved in the education of ELLs
  • Create an awareness of the laws, regulations, and policies related to the educational rights of ELLs
  • Give school personnel other resources to utilize

The manual includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Information on second language acquisition
  • Frequently asked questions about second language acquisition
  • Frequently asked questions from across the disciplines
  • Avoiding over- and under-identification
  • Recommended procedure

The steps are similar to the steps for native speakers of English, with three notable differences:

  • At every point in the process, the ELL staff should be involved. It is often the ELL staff that best knows the strengths and limitations of the ELL, and can help determine if the difficulties the ELL is experiencing are excessive when compared to other ELLs of similar backgrounds.
  • Because of the complexity of determining if an ELL has a disability, information should be collected from as many sources and in as many ways as possible both at school and at home. All the information together should be used to determine if a referral to special education is warranted.
  • A native-language assessment is often desirable at a certain point in the process. The school must ensure that the evaluations are in the language most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to provide or administer. It is important to keep in mind, however, that an ELL may have lost some proficiency in the native language if he/she has not been learning academics through that language. In fact, some ELLs, especially those born in this country, may only have oral skills in their native language because they began their schooling in English. However, if it is found that the ELL is dominant in the native language, any further testing to determine if the student has a disability will yield more accurate results if administered in the dominant language. A true disability will manifest itself in all languages that the student knows.
  • Early intervention flowchart for ELLs
  • Sample parent/caregiver interview for determining student’s language dominance and past school history
  • Checklist: Is this special education referral appropriate for an ELL?
  • Assessments
  • Translation resources & services
  • Terminology
  • Overview of legislation pertaining to ELLs.”

Illinois

Illinois State Board of Education. (2002). Serving English language learners with disabilities: A resource manual for Illinois educators. Springfield, IL: Author. Available from https://www.isbe.net/Documents/bilingual_manual2002.pdf

From the manual: “This resource book represents a continuing effort by the Joint

Bilingual Special Education Subcommittee to advocate for and improve culturally and linguistically appropriate specialized educational services for every child with a disability whose home/native language is other than English. Members of the Committee encourage school administrators, classroom teachers, and support staff to use the resource book as a guide to developing and implementing a comprehensive program of service delivery to culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children, youth, and their families. Important components of such a program include:

  • A formal, positive philosophy of service to CLD populations, including members with disabilities
  • A system of intervention for CLD students experiencing difficulties in the general education environment
  • A comprehensive plan of instruction based on “best practice” for CLD students with or at risk of learning problems
  • A system for monitoring whether the rights of CLD students and their families are protected in the special education evaluation and staffing process
  • Models for providing instruction for CLD students with disabilities in inclusive settings
  • A program of professional development for educators on issues related to language, culture and disability
  • A plan for continuous evaluation of educational services to CLD students with disabilities and their families

The manual also contains the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Guidance for avoiding disproportionate representation of English learner students in special education programs, including a sample special education intervention program for English learner students
  • Guidance for assessing English proficiency in a special education setting, including types of evidence of literacy
  • Guidance for conducting effective learning disability assessments, including types of educator expertise and student information needed
  • A description of the role of culture in English learner students’ academic progress
  • Guidance for working with interpreters and translators
  • Guidance on effective instructional practices for English learner students with learning disabilities, including possible accommodations and modifications
  • Guidance on the use of technology to support English learner students with learning disabilities
  • Guidance on creating individualized education programs for English learner students
  • Sample forms, case examples, and checklists.”

Michigan

Michigan Department of Education. (2017). Guidance handbook for educators of English learners with suspected disabilities. Lansing, MI: Author. Available from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/ELs_with_Suspected_Disabilities_Guidance_Handbook_-_2017_558692_7.pdf

From the manual: “The purpose of the Guidance Handbook for Educators of English Learners with Suspected Disabilities is to provide local education agencies (LEAs) with assistance as they identify and assess students who are English learners (ELs) for potential eligibility for special education and related services. Michigan’s educators have a moral

and legal obligation as well as a personal desire to recommend the most appropriate instructional

programming for English learners. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires LEAs to make “greater efforts to prevent the intensification of problems connected with mislabeling and high dropout rates among minority children with disabilities” (IDEA, 2004, P.L. 108-446, 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c)(12)(A)). This document provides the following guidance to:

  • Create an awareness of the laws, regulations, and policies related to the educational rights of ELs
  • Explain the research-based process of how students learn an additional language and how that process may lead to the over-identification of ELs for special education
  • Promote a model for a collaborative approach among teachers, administrators, families, and others when planning programs and services for ELs
  • Provide consistent guidance for instructional programming, interventions, evaluation and determination for special education for ELs in Michigan.

The Guidance Handbook also includes frequently asked questions (FAQs), case scenarios, and helpful tools that assist in determining if an evaluation for a suspected disability and education services are needed.”

Minnesota

Minnesota Department of Education. (2005)(2018 update in press). The ELL companion to reducing bias in special education evaluation. St. Paul, MN: Author. Available from http://www.asec.net/Archives/Manuals/ELL%20companion%20Manual%20020212%5B1%5D.pdf

From the manual: “This manual is designed as a companion to the 1998 guidelines Reducing Bias in Special Education Assessment for American Indian and African American Students. It is based upon the same fundamental principles as the original Reducing Bias and shares many of its features. The Division of Special Education’s long-term goal has been the development of comprehensive guidelines for assessment and eligibility determination for students from a variety of backgrounds. For many of these students, traditional evaluation procedures are inappropriate.

The manual includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • An overview of key decision questions that should be asked in the special education identification process for English learner students
  • Descriptions of the diverse characteristics of English learner students across the population
  • Descriptions of the stages of acculturation, with associated student behaviors
  • A description, for special education personnel, of the second-language acquisition process
  • Guidance for working with cultural liaisons, interpreters, and translators
  • Guidance for the collection and use of student background information
  • Descriptions of effective pre-referral, referral, and assessment procedures
  • Summaries of tools, both in English and in English learner students’ first languages, for assessing students’ academic progress
  • Summaries of tools for assessing English learner students’ learning environments
  • Guidance and tools for assessing progress in English proficiency
  • Guidance for reviewing the performance of the system for identifying and placing English learner students with learning disabilities as a means to systemic improvement
  • Sample forms and checklists.”

Oklahoma

Oklahoma State Department of Education, Special Education Services. (2007). Identifying and assessing English language learners with disabilities. Oklahoma City, OK: Author. Available from http://sde.ok.gov/sde/sites/ok.gov.sde/files/SpecEd-IdentifyingELL.pdf

From the manual: “The steady increase in the number of students in Oklahoma whose primary language spoken in the home is a language other than English has created a need for the development of state guidelines on appropriate identification of and educational intervention for English Language Learners (ELL) and bilingual students with disabilities. The purpose of this technical assistance guide is to provide school personnel with best practices for identifying and assessing students suspected of having disabilities.

The manual includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Nondiscriminatory assessment of culturally and linguistically diverse students
  • Culture and acculturation
  • Overview of second language acquisition theory
  • Definition: native language
  • General principles for teaching ELL students
  • Use of translators and/or interpreters
  • Not feasible to conduct procedures in student’s native language
  • Problem solving strategies
  • Federal funds for intervening services
  • Pre-referral/referral
  • Referral process
  • Assessment of achievement
  • Assessment of intelligence
  • Test modifications
  • Written report
  • Team considerations
  • Implementing the Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • References
  • Appendix
    • Addressing disabilities and language
    • Flow chart general rules for evaluation
    • Sample questions for home survey
    • Resources.”

Oregon

Oregon Department of Education, Office of Student Learning & Partnerships. (2015). Special education assessment process for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students: Guidance and resources, 2015 update. Salem, OR: Author. Available from http://5c2cabd466efc6790a0a-6728e7c952118b70f16620a9fc754159.r37.cf1.rackcdn.com/cms/Special_Education_Assessment_Process_for_Culturally_and_Liguistically_Diverse_(CLD)_Students_with_logos_and_links_1489.pdf

From the manual: “These guidelines, prepared for evaluation professionals in the state of Oregon, represent current best practice for the special education evaluation process for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. They are not meant to be an exhaustive resource on cultural and linguistic diversity issues. This document uses the terms Limited English Proficiency (LEP), English Language Learners (ELL), Second Language Learners (SLL), or the commonly used new term English Learners (ELs) interchangeably based on the reference resource. The term culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD), used throughout this document, refers to all students who have cultural and linguistic requirements, although some students may not be identified as English Learners. General education and special education evaluation professionals (e.g., teachers, school psychologists, speech and language pathologists) working with CLD students are encouraged to pursue ongoing, professional education in areas including:

  • Cultural humility development
  • Research findings on the different instructional programs used to educate CLD students
  • Typical and atypical second language acquisition
  • Socio-cultural influences (acculturation and socioeconomic background)
  • Nondiscriminatory assessment
  • Culturally responsive instructional and evaluation approaches
  • CLD Families/School Collaboration.

An in-depth understanding of the interplay of these factors on CLD students’ learning is imperative for conducting equitable and nondiscriminatory evaluations. This 2015 Update reviews current RTI and special education evaluation processes for CLD students. This Update also presents an integrative approach that combines RTI and special education assessment processes. This integrative approach allows more comprehensive and accurate evaluation results. The Special Education Assessment Process for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students 2015 Update reflects an integration of theory, research and recommended best practices to equip school professionals with the knowledge necessary to determine whether a CLD student’s academic learning difficulties are influenced by second language acquisition, the acculturation process, socioeconomic background, inappropriate instruction, or a disabling condition.

These guidelines are best used in conjunction with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004), Oregon Administrative Rules, Oregon Department of Education (ODE) Common Core Standards Initiatives for ELs, ODE Decision Making for English Learners (ELs) with Disabilities, and the Standards for Educational & Psychological Testing (2014). Additionally, the companion resources listed at the end of the introduction provide in-depth discussion of the factors that allow school professionals to recognize, respect, and build on students’ cultures and languages in order to conduct equitable nondiscriminatory evaluations. The 2015 Update is intended to be used concurrently with these resources. Without deep knowledge and the constant use of these resources, school professionals may have limited success in adopting appropriate practices and policies related to CLD students’ education and evaluation procedures.

New to the 2015 Update:

  • Cultural Humility Framework
  • Eclectic-Non-Discriminatory Assessment Framework
  • Federal and state criteria for SLD identification with CLD students
  • Culturally responsive RTI guidelines for CLD students
  • Expanded terminology/definitions
  • Updated companion resources
  • Links to culturally responsive instructional and assessment practices for CLD students
  • Updated resources/references for further reading
  • Revised listing of assessment tools
  • Updated appendices

The handbook includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Definition of terms
  • Legal mandates and ethical guidelines
  • Emerging best practices
  • Pre-referral Response To Intervention (RTI) process
  • Caution in implementing generic RTI models with culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students
  • Recommended RTI models for CLD students
  • Considerations when applying decision rules
  • Important considerations prior to special education referral
  • Non-discriminatory assessment model
  • Assessment for special education eligibility
  • Appendix A – Legal mandates and ethical guidelines
  • Appendix B – Interpreters
  • Appendix C – Pre-referral resources
  • Appendix D – Acculturation
  • Appendix E – Second language acquisition
  • Appendix F – Bilingual education
  • Appendix G – Culturally responsive pedagogy
  • Appendix H – Assessment resources.”

San Diego USD, CA

Gaviria, A., & Tipton, T. (2012). CEP-EL: A comprehensive evaluation process for English learners: A process manual. San Diego, CA: San Diego Unified School District. Available from https://www.sandiegounified.org/sites/default/files_link/district/files/dept/special_education/ParentServices/CEP-EL%20Manual.pdf

From the manual: “This manual first describes the path that the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has taken in reducing the over-­identification and disproportionality of English learners (EL) in special education. It then provides a clearly defined structure of aligned responsibilities between general and special educators that reflects the input provided by a variety of stakeholders, including district staff, the Latino Advisory Committee, and noted general and special education scholars. These collaborative efforts resulted in the creation of the CEP-EL: Comprehensive Evaluation Process for English Learners, which engages teams in best practices, culturally responsive strategies, and evidence-based methods.

The handbook includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

Procedure:

  • Implementation of the CEP-EL
  • Prior to a referral to special education
  • English learner referral and decision making process flowchart
  • Cumulative file check
  • English Learner extrinsic factors
  • English Learner intervention summary
  • After a referral to special education
  • Comprehensive evaluation process for English learners (CEP-EL) checklist

Appendix:

  • Action Plan
  • Methods
  • Tools
    • Tools for data gathering on extrinsic factors
    • Transdisciplinary interviews
    • English learner student questionnaire: Language-use
    • English learner–parent questionnaire
    • English learner–teacher questionnaire
    • Transdisciplinary observations
    • English learner classroom observation checklist
    • English learner focused observation form
    • Questions to consider when conducting observations of English learners
    • English language development proficiency
    • Conversational and academic language skills rating scale
    • Best practice guidelines for English learner assessment and treatment
    • English learner initial referral and decision making process
    • Cumulative file check
    • English learner extrinsic factors
    • English learner summary
    • Comprehensive evaluation process for English learners (CEP-EL) checklist.”

SELPA Administrators Association (CA)

Butterfield, J., Lopez, G., & Gonzalez, L. (2017). Meeting the needs of English learners (ELs) with disabilities resource book. Sacramento, CA: SELPA Administrators of California Association. Available from http://www.ccselpa.org/Publications/publications/SELPA%20EL-SPED%20Resource%20Book-Revised%20June%202017.pdf

From the resource book: “This resource book provides regular and special educators information and resources regarding best practices and regulatory requirements for identifying, providing services, and reclassifying English Learners with disabilities. This publication was designed and written to provide the most current and accurate information in regard to English Learners with disabilities known to date in the State of California.

The handbook includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Background information on English learners (ELs) with disabilities
    • Review of laws & regulations governing instruction for ELs
    • California laws & regulations
    • Federal regulation – Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
    • English language development standards
    • Intended audience
    • Overview of second language acquisition theory
    • Review of laws & regulations governing instruction for ELs
    • Program monitoring and compliance for ELs with disabilities
  • Assessment, identification, and programs for English learners
    • California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System
    • Testing accommodations and modifications for ELs
    • Assessment of English learners in California
    • Potential alternative assessment options to statewide ELD assessments for English learners with moderate to severe disabilities
    • Identification of English learners
    • California English Language Development Standards
    • Instructional programs & methodology for English learners in California
    • Curriculum and instruction for English learners
    • Staff certification requirements for teaching English learners
    • Frequently asked questions
  • Interventions for English learners prior to making a referral to special education
    • Pre-referral interventions for English learners
    • Best practices for promoting reading literacy in English learners
    • Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) / Response to Intervention for ELs
    • The role of multi-disciplinary problem solving teams in the pre-referral process
    • Frequently asked questions
  • Assessment and identification of English learners for special education learning disabilities versus language difference or lack of language fluency
    • Legal requirements for assessment of ELs
    • Determining eligibility for special education
    • Frequently asked questions
  • Development of linguistically appropriate IEP for English learners with disabilities
    • Role of the IEP team for English learners with disabilities
    • IEP team decisions regarding English language proficient (ELP) assessment
    • IEP contents
    • Documenting classification as an English learner in the IEP
    • Documenting current levels of language proficiency in the IEP
    • Documenting programs and services / instructional systems in the IEP
    • Documenting primary language support in the IEP
    • Documenting the language of instruction in the IEP
    • Linguistically Appropriate Goals and Objectives (LAGOS)
    • IEP accommodations and modifications
    • Other legal requirements related to IEPs of ELs
    • California Department of Education (CDE) 2016-2017 compliance items for IEPs of English learners
    • Frequently asked questions
  • Programs, services and instructional strategies for English learners with disabilities
    • Collaboration between special and general education
    • Programs and services for EL students with disabilities
    • Sample elementary school ELD /SPED service delivery model
    • Sample secondary school ELD /SPED service delivery model
    • English language development (ELD) best practices for ELs with disabilities
    • Best practice instructional strategies for ELs with disabilities
    • Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
    • Frequently asked questions
  • Reclassification/Redesignation of English learners with disabilities
    • Understanding reclassification of English learners
    • California Department of Education reclassification guidelines
    • Criterion 1: Assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument
    • Criterion 2: Teacher evaluation
    • Criterion 3: Parent opinion and consultation
    • Criterion 4: Comparison of performance in basic skills
    • Application of the four criteria to students with disabilities
    • Sample reclassification scenarios
    • Frequently asked questions
  • Appendices
    • ELD programs / curricular materials & resources
      • What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) EL reading programs
      • Publishers listing programs as appropriate for ELD
      • The CDE approved AB 1802 English learner supplemental materials list (2010)
      • The CDE EL approved core and intervention programs and current list of instructional materials for programs, grades kindergarten through eight (2008)
      • Resources for working with EL students
      • California Department of Education (CDE) English learner documents
      • Participation criteria checklist for alternate assessments
      • English Learner Test Variations (2017) Matrix Two (CELDT Excerpts)
      • Initial parent notification letter
      • Excerpts from English learners and the Common Core Standards
      • Proficiency level descriptors for California English Language Development Standards
    • Federal documents / opinion letters
      • Office of Civil Rights communication regarding reclassification of English learners with disabilities
      • United States Education Department (ED) questions and answers regarding inclusion of English learners with disabilities in English language proficiency assessments and Title III Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives
      • Sample EL forms and documents
      • EL / SPED reclassification checklist
      • Learning issues frequently seen in ELs (What it may seem like) and language difference related reasons for the difficulty
      • Comparison of language differences versus disabilities
      • Assessment of English learners for eligibility for special education compliant best practices
      • IEP team checklist for English learners
      • English Learner (EL) Assessment for Special Education Eligibility Checklist
      • Cuestionario de Padres de Estudiantes de Ingles (Spanish)
      • English Learner (EL) Parent Interview Questionnaire
      • Potential bilingual assessment tools
      • Sample EL/SPED Reclassification Worksheet
      • English Learner with Special Needs Reclassification Worksheet”

Vermont

Vermont Department of Education, New England Equity Assistance Center, Education Alliance at Brown University & Northeast Regional Resource Center, Learning Innovations at WestEd. (2010). English language learners in Vermont: Distinguishing language difference from disability. Montpelier, VT: Author. Available from http://education.vermont.gov/sites/aoe/files/documents/edu-federal-programs-distinguishing-language-difference-from-disability.pdf

From the manual: “Identifying, assessing, and differentiating instruction for ELLs with disabilities require educators to understand first the complex interrelationships of language, culture, and school factors that impact the learning and behavior of all ELL students and take these into account when developing additional programs and accommodations based on their unique characteristics and needs. This Guide has been designed with the premise that teachers, specialists, administrators, and parents will be best prepared to make appropriate referrals, design effective assessments, and make effective instructional decisions by collaboratively developing and implementing a knowledge base that meet the needs of ELLs with special needs. This Guide is intended to achieve the following:

  • Educators, policymakers, and parents will increase their awareness of issues and legal requirements related to the identification, instruction, and assessment of ELLs with or without disabilities;
  • Through collaboration and a shared knowledge base covering cultural considerations, second language acquisition, academic language proficiency, and teaching and learning strategies, educators, policymakers, and parents will develop a shared responsibility for outcomes for ELLs;
  • Educators and parents will be able to make informed decisions about referrals, assessments, and instructional practices; these will lead to early intervention when appropriate and prevent inappropriate placement in special education due to lack of language and academic supports and programs;
  • State and local education agencies can use the Guide as a reference for developing and implementing non-discriminatory policies and procedures (as well as for planning sustained professional development, such as study groups) related to ELL/Special Education identification, evaluation, instruction, assessment, program development, and progress-monitoring. These approaches should reduce the incidence of disproportionate, i.e., over- and under-representation of ELLs, in special education; and
  • Teacher preparation programs of institutions of higher education will align their curricula across general and special education in relation to the needs of ELL students.

The handbook includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Introduction: demographics, origins, purpose and intended outcomes
  • Essential sources for providing high quality services for English Language Learners
  • Overview of federal and state requirements
  • Educational Support Systems (ESS), Educational Support Team (EST), the EST process for English Language Learners, and special education
  • Parental engagement for English Language Learners (ELLs)
  • Instructional strategies for English Language Learners (ELLs)
  • Making appropriate referrals to special education
  • Conducting a special education evaluation for an English Language Learner (ELL)
  • Appendices (including pre-referral process flowchart)”

Virginia

Virginia Department of Education. (2015). Handbook for educators of students who are English language learners with suspected disabilities. Richmond, VA: Author. URL no longer available.

From the manual: “The purpose of this document...is to provide local educational agencies (LEAs) with assistance as they identify and assess students who are ELL for possible eligibility for special education and related services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) suggests that greater efforts are needed to prevent the intensification of problems connected with mislabeling and high dropout rates among minority children with disabilities. This handbook will provide guidance for LEAs to:

  • Create an awareness of the laws, regulations, and policies related to the educational rights of students who are ELLs
  • Explain the process and developmental stages of second language acquisition
  • Promote a collaborative approach among teachers, administrators, and other personnel involved in the education of students who are ELLs
  • Provide consistent guidelines for instructional interventions, special education identification process, and program options for students who are ELLs
  • Be used collaboratively with the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia

The handbook includes the following information, guidelines, and resources:

  • Pre-referral interventions for distinguishing between second-language and disability issues, and decision criteria for when to request a formal special education determination
  • Elements of an effective assessment of second-language issues (dual language assessment)
  • Elements of an effective special needs assessment for English learner students, including criteria for when to use an English learner student’s first language in assessment
  • Lists of types of evidence and instruments for use in the special needs assessment
  • Elements of an effective individualized education program that integrates both second-language and special education support services
  • Responses to frequently asked questions about the characteristics and likely behaviors of English learner students with suspected learning disabilities and appropriate educator responses
  • A description of the second-language acquisition process
  • Guidance for working with interpreters
  • Guidance for communicating and working with families
  • Sample forms and checklists for identifying and placing English learner students with learning disabilities in appropriate programs.”

Method

Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

(Guidance OR handbook OR manual OR resource book) AND (“English learners”) AND (disabilities)

Databases and Resources

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of over 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences. Additionally, we searched Google, Google Scholar and PsychInfo.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the Publication: References and resources published for the last 15 years, from 2002 to present, were included in the search and review.
  • Search Priorities of Reference Sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published and/or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations and academic databases, including ERIC, EBSCO databases, JSTOR database, PsychInfo, PsychArticle, and Google Scholar.
  • Methodology: Following methodological priorities/considerations were given in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types – randomized controlled trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, etc., generally in this order; (b) target population, samples (representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected, etc.), study duration, etc.; and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, etc.

This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the West Region (Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd. This memorandum was prepared by REL West under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-00014524, administered by WestEd. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.