English Language Learners

Framework (What’s Required):

  • The LEA must ensure that assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess the child are selected and administered so as not to be discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis; Provided and administered:

    • In the child's native language or other mode of communication; and
    • In the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is not feasible to so provide or administer;
    • Used for the purposes for which the assessments or measures are valid and reliable;
    • Administered by trained and knowledgeable personnel; and
    • Administered in accordance with any instructions provided by the producer of the assessments;

Persons Responsible:


Methods (What We Do):

  • Referral
    The campus Intervention Assistance Team (IAT) facilitates all campus referrals for Special Education and Section 504 evaluations, including evaluation referrals involving students that are limited English proficient. The purpose of the IAT is to collect informal data to distinguish if the student's learning deficits are likely caused by a language difference or a suspected disability. In order for the IAT to suspect a disability may exist for a limited English speaking student, the learning deficits must be evident in the native language as well as in English. Common campus assessments available to distinguish a language difference versus a possible disability include:

    • Running records; fluency probes (English, Spanish, or other language)
    • Assessments associated with Esperanza
    • Istation probes (English and/or Spanish)
    • Texas English Language Proficiency Assessments System (TELPAS)
    • STAAR (English and/or Spanish)
    • Formative assessments (English and/or Spanish)
    • Writing samples (English, Spanish, or other language)
    • School attendance history
    • Teacher observations
    • Home Language Survey (HLS)
    • Parent information

    All referrals for Special Education or Section 504 evaluations are case managed by the campus Educational Diagnostician or Speech Therapist (if the suspected disability is for a speech impairment only). If based on the referral information, there is any influence of a language other than English the evaluation case manager will request a bilingual Educational Diagnostician or Speech Therapist to be assigned as an ancillary evaluator. The bilingual Educational Diagnostician or Speech Therapist will determine the extent to which the Special Education or Section 504 evaluation will be conducted in the student's native language and English. In order for the evaluation team to determine if a disability exists, the academic need caused by the disability must be evident in the student's native language and in English. In the event a bilingual Educational Diagnostician or Speech Therapist is not available for languages other than English or Spanish, the evaluation will be conducted with the support of a trained translator.

    If a formal emotional/behavioral evaluation is needed, the evaluation case manager can request a bilingual Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) to be included on the evaluation team. If a bilingual LSSP is not available, the evaluation will be conducted with the support of a trained translator.

    Bilingual Program and Services
    For those ELLs being considered for special education, schools must ensure that each campus LPAC coordinates with the ARD/IEP committee in determining the most appropriate placement of ELLs with disabilities. When a student needs both language and disability related services, the LPAC administrator must participate in the ARD/IEP meetings. 
    The LPAC is required to offer the required bilingual or ESL program to ELL students who also qualify for Special Education services. If a campus does not have bilingual certified/Special Education teachers, the campus is required to find the means to provide both services either through a model where the Special Education teacher provides instructional support in the bilingual classroom or provide other options for serving the student's needs.
    Students cannot be denied the required language services when they also qualify for Special Education services. A parent shall not be asked to choose between a language or Special Education program.

    Participation in Dual Language Program
    Benefits of the Dual Language bilingual program extends to students with disabilities. It is often thought that an ELL who is identified as having a disability, should only be instructed in English, so as not to confuse the student. Emerging evidence shows that children with speech, language, or learning impairment can become fully bilingual (Genesee, Paradis, & Crago, 2004; Perozzi, 1985; Perozzi & Sanchez, 1992) and will benefit from participation in the Dual Language program. 

    Benefits of Dual Language for Students with Disabilities
    Students who are dual language learners with disabilities and receive interventions in their home language and English fair as well or better than children who receive services in English alone (Paradis, et al 2011). 
    There are no regulations that prohibit a student from participating in both special education and Dual Language programs. Once a child qualifies for special education services, the ARD/IEP committee, in conjunction with the LPAC, must look at his or her specific social, language, and academic needs and select the appropriate instructional program that best meets those needs.