Is it possible to have a disability in just one language?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Apr 25, 2012.

  1. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 30, 2012

    Makes sense. So 2 issues then remain:

    1. On a theoretical level, you'd have to show through assessment that the student's rate of learning (or overall level of learning) in a particular area (e.g., reading) is lower for a given level of second language acquisition. Maybe there's an assessment that does this? Not sure.

    2. Even if you could find such an assessment, sounds like you still wouldn't be able to use it as the regulations for assessment are what they are.
     
  2. bros

    bros Phenom

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    May 1, 2012

  3. EdEd

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    Thanks bros - from the links you included (particularly that last one), it seems like the issues we're discussing have very much not been worked out, but again - I have no experience in this. Would love for someone knowledgeable about evals with ESL populations to chime in. Very curious, because waterfall seems to have uncovered a very huge issue that is probably pretty common. I'm sure someone knows the answer!

    One observation from having been in a number of determination meetings is the requirement to consider language/cultural issues is just a check-marked box - there really isn't any formal way I've seen of truly and quantitatively connecting test scores related to achievement/IQ with test scores related to language acquisition. That seems to be the case in all the links bros included, and other links I've found.

    Going back to a former point, ALL of this is pretty much moot under an RtI model where a "traditional" evaluation (meaning IQ/achievement discrepancy model) is not required for a certain level of services. This is, again, one reason why RtI was created. I know some are pushing for or have implemented a hybrid model in which lower tiers are based on lack of response to intervention, but the third or final tier is based on a traditional evaluation based on the discrepancy model. Although you can find intelligent folks arguing for this, there are probably better arguments for a "pure" RtI model, as a discrepancy model continues to have several core flaws which led to RtI in the first place - lack of agreed-upon constructs/definitions about what a learning disability is, lack of treatment/intervention utility of such an assessment (discrepancy model doesn't lead to helpful interventions that non-discrepancy assessments already can provide), exclusion of students truly needing help but not fitting within the arbitrary cut scores for discrepancy, etc.

    Okay, stepping off soapbox now :) ....
     
  4. bros

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    May 1, 2012

    Perhaps a multi-lingual neuropsychologist would be useful in a situation like this?
     
  5. EdEd

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    May 2, 2012

    Probably even just a school psychologist that specializes in ESL identification would know the general answer.
     
  6. EdEd

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    May 2, 2012

    So another thought waterfall, and I apologize for multiple postings :). In some districts I've worked in, there is a clause in the determination "worksheets" that allows the MDT to bypass certain requirements if the team feels the assessments are not truly capturing a "real" learning disability. Basically, it says that the team's opinion trumps the assessment data. This can be extremely problematic as teams that really want to "help" a child will sometimes try to identify a child that really doesn't meet criteria simply because the child needs help. On an absolute level - sure - but I think the true meaning of the clause is that the team can "overall" a particular piece of the assessment if the team feels it hasn't really painted a true picture of the student. Not sure if your determination "worksheet" in CO has a similar clause for exemption, and not sure what a district level person might say when encountering use of said exemption in a situation like yours, but might be interesting if you were somehow able to gather some sort of evidence suggesting that the student's rate of phonics acquisition is lower relative to peers with similar levels of language acquisition? Just trying to be creative :)
     
  7. waterfall

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    May 2, 2012

    We actually have a "culturally and linguistically diverse team" that deals with all of these cases- they are in charge of determining if it's an actual disability or just a language difference. They drive me nuts. The leader of the team comes from a school in our district that is almost 100% white. So getting a new ELL student at her school might be a big deal, or it might be true that they would overlook the ELL status and think the kid needed extra help because they're not used to those students. Of course at my school, ELL students are actually the majority, so I don't feel like that really happens. When we're comparing a student to grade level peers at my school, the majority of the student's peers are also ELL students. The team has ESL teachers, psychologists, and some teachers that are working on getting their masters in "linguistically diverse special education." It is VERY hard to get a student through them, and one of the biggest reasons that my kids are often in RtI for a year or more. We generally have made the decision to refer them as a building, but then it can take months for this team to finally say yes. I have to fill out a ton of paperwork on "diversity vs. disability" as do the parents and classroom teachers. If the student's CELA score isn't good enough, they generally won't get through. Since a portion of CELA is reading and writing, obviously students with reading and writing disabilities tend to score lower. We also have to prove that they've had enough time to learn in their native language, yet we can't provide sped services or really intensive RtI services in Spanish because I don't speak it well enough to teach in it. So students often have to get moved into all English classes prematurely to get the interventions in the first place, yet can't qualify for sped because they'll say they didn't have enough time to learn in Spanish. They also make us give them an Idea Proficiency Test, and if their dominant language comes out as Spanish, they generally don't approve them. It's almost always a big fight to get my kids through the team. I know there is no way they'd approve this girl- I've had much, much more cut and dry cases where I had to fight with them for months and at a couple points had to just go over their heads with the help of my principal. I was really more asking on a theoretical level- because I always, always hear in my district from anyone who knows anything about sped that if it's not present in both languages, it's not a disability.
     

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