How does your school go about identifying EL students for SPED?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jan 23, 2017

    In my previous schools this was easy because those schools were 90% EL (not sure if this is the same everywhere, we've been told that "ELL" is now just "EL"). We had large sample sizes of kids with similar language backgrounds to look at within our own building, so it was easy to identify kids who weren't responding to intervention/progressing in a similar manner to the other students with similar language backgrounds. In my current school, we're only about 15% EL and we only get 1-2 students per year who literally come in day 1 speaking no English. We don't really have anything to compare the monolingual Spanish speakers too. None of our assessments are normed for EL students, and it doesn't really make sense to test in Spanish when they're not getting instruction in Spanish. These kids are also coming from high poverty homes and they're obviously significantly below grade level; sometimes by 1st or 2nd grade they are below the level of other identified SPED students in the grade level. Obviously, the gen ed teachers are pitching a huge fit about the kids getting into SPED when this happens, and obviously there are cases where a child can be EL and have a disability at the same time, but I do think we're over-identifying. I have been to several trainings on this very topic and none of them have even been a little bit helpful. We have a new EL teacher this year and she's pushing for a lot of her students to be tested. She says they should be able to memorize things, even if they don't speak English well. We have RtI meetings this week for our two 1st grade students who came in day 1 of Kinder with no English. My team and I are tired of being the "big bad meanies" who say the child needs more time, especially when the EL teacher is not backing us up. I have also found that kids are significantly more successful if I can get them when they're younger and don't want to just make them wait if they truly do have a disability. What does your school do?
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jan 24, 2017

    My district will not even consider an EL referral for sped until 4th grade at the earliest. EL students receive accommodations similar to what they would receive on an IEP, they just do not receive services from the sped teacher.
     
  4. 4815162342

    4815162342 Companion

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    Jan 24, 2017

    Our ELL students are determined by a home language survey parents complete when registering their child. As far as placement within the esl program, we use Telpas. Those students have some accommodations in class and or on tests.
    But ELL and sped are two separate depts. With different teachers.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jan 24, 2017

    How do the teachers at your school feel about this? Is there a lot of resentment that the students can't be referred earlier?
     
  6. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jan 24, 2017

    We tend to wait a minimum of a year before thinking about doing any testing for Special Ed. The only exception to this is if we have reports that there were learning concerns in the first language.
     
  7. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Jan 24, 2017

    Many of our ELLs lack previous schooling in their home countries. That and language differences put them below grade level, but that does not mean they have learning disabilities. ELLs receive their own plan, similar to an IEP, that lists accommodations, modifications, and service hours from an ELL teacher. These students are not referred for special education until documentation shows little progress made over a substantial period of time with this plan AND RTI.

    Most ELLs are placed in lower-ability classes and groups and are informally given extra help by the special educator or para who is assisting the special education students.
     
  8. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jan 24, 2017

    I honestly don't know. We don't have very many EL students, and I've personally only had one who I also felt needed to be tested for sped. (I teach 5th). Based on his ELPA scores, he should have been proficient in English, but he was at a first grade phonics level and after a semester of Orrin-Gillingham interventions, he was making no progress. I didn't end up referring him because I referred three other, non-EL students for testing (all of whom qualified for services), and was getting some comments from our sped team for making so many referrals.

    I do think there should be a required level of documentation of interventions tried before referring any student for testing, but I do see where gen ed teachers get frustrated in the referral process. It feels like it takes an act of Congress to get a child tested sometimes. Gen ed teachers aren't specialists in working with EL or learning-disabled students, but I do think they are qualified enough to see when a student needs more help than what they are getting in the classroom. In the specific case of EL students, would there be a way to train the gen ed teachers in some strategies to help them help the kids more?
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jan 25, 2017

    That's the crazy part- many of our gen ed teachers are also EL certified. Since our city has such a high EL population, it's a popular thing for teachers to choose to get their MA degrees in. This 1st grade teacher has a MA in EL. We had one of the RtI meetings for one of her students today. We didn't end up referring him and she left the room crying. He is very low, but he's only in 1st grade and he comes from a monolingual Spanish speaking home! I would understand if he were much older, but he's had hardly any time. He's also currently getting a small group with the EL teacher that is smaller than my SPED group, and it's at the same time as the SPED group so it's not like the student would get both if he were referred. I offered to meet with the EL teacher to show her what I do in my group (just in case she or the gen ed teacher is thinking there is some "magic strategy" happening in my group that can't happen in the EL group).
     
  10. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Jan 25, 2017

    Same here.
     
  11. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jan 31, 2017

    We wait a year or so if the referral is coming prior to 2nd grade. We look at the Home Language Survey and if it states Spanish/Spanish, then we do the Woodcock Johnson Language Survey to determine language dominance. If it's Spanish, then our bilingual person will test. If it's English, then our monolingual assessment personnel will complete testing.
     

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