Administrators play an important role in shaping the policies and procedures for identifying the language and academic needs of English language learners (ELLs), particularly those that might have disabilities.
In this excerpt from Chapter 7 of Transforming Schools for English Learners: A Comprehensive Framework for School Leaders, Debbie Zacarian presents a survey that will allow district teams and leaders to recognize trends around the identification of ELLs with disabilities.
Note: This survey is also available as a PDF.
A team of English language and special education teachers and specialists should convene periodically to review and analyze data about the students who have been referred and evaluated for special education services.
Analysis of the EL Population
Download this survey
This survey is also available as a PDF.
1. The total number of identified ELs in the school is __________________________.
The total number of ELs who were referred during this school year for a special education evaluation in the school is __________________________.
The total percentage of ELs referred for a special education evaluation during this school year is __________________________.
2. Is the proportion of ELs who have been referred the same as the proportion of the general population of students who have been referred? Yes No
If no, what is the difference noted?
3. Is the proportion of ELs who have been identified as having disabilities the same as the proportion of the general population of students who have been identified? Yes No
If no, describe the differences.
4. The languages spoken by the ELs in the school are:
5. The languages spoken by the ELs who were referred for a special education evaluation are:
6. Are there commonalities among the languages spoken by ELs and the reasons for referral or diagnosis of disability? Yes No
If yes, what is the commonality?
Reasons That ELs Have Been Referred
7. The reasons, by total number of occurrence, that ELs were referred for a special education evaluation this year are:
____ orthopedic impairment
____other health impairment
____specific learning disability
____speech/ language impairment
____traumatic brain injury
____ visual impairment, including blindness
8. The most common reason that ELs were referred for a special education evaluation this year is:
9. Anecdotally, describe any additional commonalities among the ELs who were referred (e.g., interrupted formal education).
Teachers and Specialists
10. Have the assessors been trained in second language acquisition and linguistic and cultural diversity? Yes No
If no, what steps is the school taking to ensure that its evaluators, including school psychologists, speech and language therapists, and special education staff, are being trained?
11. Do the assessments used to identify ELs with disabilities make use of relevant and actual behaviors in classroom contexts? Yes No
12. Are assessments being provided in the students’ home language by staff who have trained in second language acquisition and practices for teaching ELs? Yes No
If no, what steps has the school taken to ensure that actual data are used?
ELE Programming Services
13. Do the ELs who have been referred receive effective programming for learning English, including:
a. An English language development program from a licensed ESL teacher? Yes No
b. An appropriate amount of daily instruction of English language development for ELs? Yes No
c. Content instruction from a teacher who is trained to teach ELs? Yes No
d. Curriculum that is specifically connected to ELs’ personal, cultural, linguistic, and world experiences and knowledge so that it is meaningful, relevant, and comprehensible? Yes No
e. An education program for students with interrupted formal education? Yes No
14. If any of the responses to Question 13 are “no,” what steps is the school taking to ensure that its programming for ELs is properly resourced?