Editors note: At Ellevation, we take pride in sharing insights from exceptional practitioners across the country about promising instructional models from the field. Here’s an article from Diane Staehr Fenner, president of DSF Consulting and an author of many works in the field of EL education.
Recently published research starkly proves what many ELL educators already know: ELL students are routinely under or over-identified in Special Education programs. Too often, ELL students in need are denied special services because district professionals cannot differentiate between a language barrier or learning disability. Alternatively, many ELL students placed in Special Education programs have later been found to have no disability at all. Even when students are properly referred for special services, they may often receive the wrong types of services - witness the astonishingly high incidence of autism among Asian American students. Thousands of children and families may suffer as a result of misidentification.