How do you know if English Language Learners have a Special Need? Is it language or is it more? By Lauren Swenson
Learning Goals Content Objectives: I can define English Language Learners. I can define Special Needs. I can identify assessments given to ELL to see if they qualify for Special Needs. Language Objectives: I can tell a partner who is an English Language Learner. I can name and describe Special Needs. I can write down some of the assessments given to ELLs to see if they qualify for Special Needs on a note card.
Who are English Language Learners? English language learners are students who don’t speak English as their primary language and who are less than proficient in English. (Muller and Markowitz, 2004)
What is Special Needs? “Special needs is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities such as medical, mental, or psychological” (Wikipedia, 2006, p. 1). If someone is termed “special needs” that means they have a disability or they need some sort of special education. Also, it means they need more services than someone who doesn’t have a disability (Wikipedia, 2006).
Individual With Disabilities Education Act(1990) The IDEA act states: This act requires that student evaluations must be conducted in the child’s language, and that parents must be informed of the evaluations and their language they can understand. IEPs must state the modifications of instruction methods, and materials needed for both native language and English as a language instruction (2005, p. 4).
Did You Know? Some schools districts have confused the educational needs of English language learners with the special education services required by IDEA (Minow, 2001, p. 1). This can lead to an inappropriate referral to special education, which could cause ELL students from achieving their full academic potential (Minow, 2001, p. 1).
Why is this happening? In general, English language learners are overrepresented in the special education programs when they do not have any disabilities (Artiles & Harry, 2004, p. 4). What are the reasons for this overrepresentation? Sometimes learning or behavioral problems may be due to factors unrelated to disabilities such as Poor instructional programs Language differences Temporary stressful situations at school, family, or community Another reason some English language learners are overrepresented is due to stereotyping by peer or by teachers (Artiles & Harry, 2004, p. 4).
How do we solve this problem? Without reform and proper assessment of ELL students in regard to special education placement, the increasing racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of students could potentially overwhelm special education programs (p. 2). Accurate assessment for English language learners is a constant worry for educators. School districts are more conscious to accurately assess English language learners and they are more informed on issues that impact the assessments (Assessment of Limited-English Proficient Students, 2005).
How do we assess a child who is and EnglishLanguage Learner? First, you need to know the cultural background of your student. In addition, to guarantee academic growth, programming needs of students are determined by: Age at immigration Literacy skills Previous formal education
Alternative Assessments Alternative assessments are very helpful for English language learners because it shows what they can do. Tannenbaum (1996), lists the criteria that alternative assessments need to meet, they are: Focus is on documenting individual student growth over time, rather than comparing students with one another. Emphasis is on students’ strengths (what they know), rather than weaknesses (what they don’t know). Consideration is given to the learning styles, language proficiencies, cultural and educational backgrounds, and grades levels of students.
Dynamic Assessments “Dynamic assessment is based on the work of Vygotsky and looks at cognitive development within the context of social interactions with others who are more capable. These experiences are influenced by language and culture” (p.1).
Dynamic Assessments Continued To get a child’s best performance, the dynamic assessment goes by for methods: Testing the limits- In dynamic assessment, the examiner would go beyond simple feedback (saying “That is correct”) to elaborate feedback (ask the student to provide the reasons why the answer is correct). Clinical Interview- Allows for modifying the administration of a test to generate questions to help children understand how they are thinking about a test question to facilitate their awareness of targeted skills. Graduated Prompting- The examiner focuses on the point where the student is able to demonstrate knowledge/proficiency, and judging the distance on a continuum. Test-Teach-Retest- The examiner provides an intervention designed to modify the student’s level of functioning in the target area (Dynamic Assessment, 2002).
Had Enough? Me too! All in all, the number of English language learners is growing rapidly in our region, and making sure they succeed has never been so urgent.
Did we meet our Learning Goals? Content Objectives: I can define English Language Learners. I can define Special Needs. I can identify assessments given to ELL to see if they qualify for Special Needs. Language Objectives: I can tell a partner who is an English Language Learner. I can name and describe Special Needs. I can write down some of the assessments given to ELLs to see if they qualify for Special Needs on a note card.
Annotated Bibliography 1. Artiles, A. J., & Harry, B. (2004). Addressing culturally and linguistically diverse student overrepresentation in special education: Guidelines for parents. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from www.nccrest.org. 2. Assessment of limited-English proficient students. (2005). Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://dpi.state.wi.us/ell/info2_3.html. 3. Dynamic assessment. (2002). Retrieved July 7, 2012, from www.cde.state.co.us. 4. Legal and Ethical Provisions. (2005). Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.ldldproject.net/legal.html. 5. Minow, M. L. (2001). Limited English proficient students and special education. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_limited.html. 6. Muller, E. & Markowitz, J. (2004). English language learners with disabilities. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.nasdse.org/forum.htm. 7. Special Education. Retrieved July 7, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_needs. 8. Tannenbaum, J.E. (1996). Practical ideas on alternative assessment for ESL students. Retrieved July 7, 2012, from http://www.cal.org.resources/Digest/tannen01.html.