Limited English proficient or English language learners?
English language learners is the term currently preferred by researcher and practitioners
Limited English proficient is the term found in federal law
Each state has definition of LEP – but not consistent across states.
There are over 5.5 million limited English proficient students in the United States LEP Students
Who Are English Language Learners?
Most common language: Spanish (80% of LEP students)
Other languages: Vietnamese, Chinese, Hmong, Khmer, Navajo, Haitian Creole, Korean, Arabic, Urdu, Russian, Tagalog, Lao, Japanese
77% come from low-income families
Who Are ELL Students?
ELLs are concentrated in schools that are linguistically homogeneous and have high numbers of low-income students
Many are in schools with unqualified teachers, inadequate resources and crumbling facilities
Latinos have the highest dropout rate in the country
Is There a Disproportionate Representation of ELLs in Special Education?
Are LEP students overrepresented or underrepresented?
What are the reasons for disproportionality?
How do we determine disproportionality?
English Language Learners with Disabilities
In 1997 (the only year for which this data is available), the Office of Civil Rights determined that only 5.5% of LEP students in the U.S. were also receiving special education services.
The latest Descriptive Study of Services to LEP Students and LEP Students with Disabilities (OELA, 2003) reported approximately 9.0% of LEP students received special education services in 2001-2002.
Is The Issue Disproportionality or Inappropriate Placements?
First, what can we do before referring?
Improve General Education: Teacher Training
General education teachers who can teach an increasingly diverse student population
English language learners
Children from diverse cultural backgrounds
Children living in poverty
Improve General Education: Strategies
Teacher teams to improve instruction in general education
Appropriate language supports
Parent and community involvement
How can schools understand their students if they don’t understand where they come from?
Child study teams
Informal problem solving
*Some students should be referred for an evaluation immediately, depending on suspected disability
Classify English Language Learners For Evaluation Purposes
Limited English proficient – recent arrival (less than one year).
Limited English proficient – one to three years.
Long-term limited English proficient – over three years (regardless of services).
Why is LEP Status Important?
Will determine language or languages of evaluation.
How Do You Determine LEP Status?
For most students, information is included in referral.
Consult bilingual/ESL service providers.
Evaluation of Language When is it necessary to evaluate language or languages? When the suspected disability has language component.
Determine suspected category of disability.
Determine existing data.
Determine additional data needed.
Next Steps (cont.)
If additional data gathering is necessary, determine in which language or languages child will be evaluated.
Determination of language of evaluation can be done based on the previously outlined categories of LEP:
Recent arrivals should be tested in native language
All other LEP students should be tested in both languages if appropriate and depending on suspected disability
What Should the IEP Team Do First?
Section 300.533 (Determination of needed evaluation data) allows teams* to review existing data to determine if child has “…a particular category of disability” and “whether the child needs special education and related services…”
*Always include bilingual/ESL service provider as part of team.
For What Categories Should An Evaluation of Language Be Conducted?
Speech Language Impaired
Specific Learning Disabilities
Traumatic Brain Injury
Deaf and Hearing Impaired
For Which Categories Is It Not Necessary to Evaluate Language? *
Other Health Impaired
*Unless the IEP team suspects that the child’s language skills are delayed as well.
Why Determine Suspected Disability For LEP Students?
IEP teams routinely conduct language evaluations for students they suspect have a non-language related disability.
To better calibrate evaluations and produce better results.
Suggested Strategies for Evaluation
Gather as much background information as possible including academic records, parent interviews*, and observations.
For additional instruments, use bilingual personnel or trained personnel working with trained interpreters.
*Particularly important for ELL students.
Suggested Strategies for Evaluation (cont.)
Use only instruments normed on a sample that includes children similar to those being evaluated
Report findings descriptively, never report scores (approximate measures).
Beware of language load when using translations
Beware of item difficulty (importance of bilingual evaluators)
Train evaluation personnel to work with and prepare interpreters whenever necessary
Training Special Education Personnel to Work with Interpreters
Evaluation personnel is often reluctant and unsure of how to work with interpreters.
Trained interpreters are much more effective in translating the message accurately.
Trained evaluation personnel working with trained interpreters will produce better results.
Planning for Special Education and Related Services
Link evaluation results to IEP
Link language(s) of evaluation to language(s) of services
CONTINUE TO PROVIDE LANGUAGE SUPPORT SERVICES, e.g., bilingual instruction or ESL services
Delivery of Special Education and Related Services
Use team approach whenever possible, especially for students who need special education and language support services
Allow time for team planning - saves time and money in the long run
What Else Can You Do?
Frequent review of referrals and placements of ELL students