Identifying Student Needs

a man showing a young adult something on a computer screen

Understanding what an English language learner needs to succeed is a process that takes time and may involve a variety of factors. It is not typically a question that can be answered by a single test, evaluation tool, conversation, or checklist.  The following topics explore these different factors and offer ideas for identifying areas where a student may need additional support.

This resource section was made possible through our partnership with the National Education Association. Additional support was provided by the American Federation of Teachers.

What You'll Find in This Section

a man helping a young girl in a hijab with a tablet computer

What do you need to know about a student's background and culture when identifying his or her strengths, challenges, and needs?  What factors may make a difference for the child?  Learn more from these resources and videos, as well as case studies that highlight experiences of students with diverse backgrounds and levels of schooling.

The Importance of Student Background

a boy talks to a woman about the book he's reading

If an English language learner is struggling with reading, it's important to gather as much data as possible about the student's literacy background, strengths, and challenges. It is also important to understand the difference between benchmarks and interventions that are designed for native speakers, versus those that are designed with ELLs in mind. Learn more from the following resources and our interview with ELL literacy expert Dr. Nancy Cloud.

When Students Struggle with Reading

Featured Video