Special Education and English Language Learners

Learn more about how schools and families can collaborate to ensure that ELLs, including those with special needs, have the appropriate support and services to meet their unique needs.

For teachers who work with English Language Learners (ELLs), ensuring that students have the appropriate support and services to meet their unique needs can be a big challenge.

We've created an in-depth resource section featuring recommendations and resources to help educators, administrators, and families to work together around this complex topic.

Thanks to our partners!

This project was made possible through our partnership with the National Education Association. Additional support was provided by our founding partner, the American Federation of Teachers.

Special Education and ELLs: Challenges and Opportunities

Why do ELLs tend to be under- or over-identified for special education?  What are the myths and misconceptions that result in these trends?


Identifying Student Needs

Learn more about the many factors that can impact student success such as language, culture, and prior experience and areas where a student may need additional support.


The Special Education Referral Process for ELLs

What are important considerations to keep in mind when preparing for and managing the special education referral process for ELLs?


Instruction & Assessment

Learn more about assessing and teaching dually-identified students and how the field is changing with the increased use of technology, student support teams, and collaborative practices.


Special Education and ELLs: Recommended Resources

Take a look at these recommended resources, which include reports, books, and guides providing detailed frameworks and tools that can help support ELL success.


Interviews with Featured Experts

These interviews with experts in the field of ELL education, bilingual education, and special education offer excellent guidance for educators who serve ELLs who may have disabilities.