English Learners

Special education students who are also English Learners have special considerations in the IEP planning and implementation process at key times:


1. Preschoolers-  Determining the English Language Development needs of an incoming preschooler is an important part of the assessment process.  The Preschool Language Acquisition Tool (PLAT) must be used to assess English Language Development.


2. Initial Entry into School (T-K and later) - When first entering the public school system at T-K or above, parents of special education students must complete a Home Language Survey.  If there is any language other than English indicated on questions #1-3 (#4 is optional per district policy) on the Home Language Survey, the student must participate in the ELPAC Initial Assessment.  If the student is not able to participate meaningfully in the ELPAC, the student may take the Alternate ELPAC


3. Initial Eligibility – If a student has been identified as an English Learner by the ELPAC or Alternate ELPAC, the Assessment Team needs to determine whether the “suspected disability” is truly a disability, or the result of a difference caused by the normal process of acquiring English, which does not constitute a disability.  See the handbook "Assessment of English Learners for Special Education Eligibility" for strategies for this process.  


4. IEP – The IEP for a special education English Learner has certain requirements:


A. English Language Development (ELD) page – Describes how the student will participate in EL testing, the related IEP goals, and the ELD services he/she will receive – (including frequency, location, and duration), and the strategies for assisting the student to access core curriculum 


B. Annual Goals (and Objectives, if applicable) page– For each Annual Goal, the language of instruction must be noted, and all goals    involvong language must be linguistically appropriate, meaning they are appropriate for the student’s EL level. Some districts require at least one goal for ELD based on area(s) of weakness identified on the English Language Proficiency Test. An EL Goal can also address another need related to the disability.


C. Special Factors affecting learning on the LRE page:  "Needs of the English Learner" must be indicated – which will describe the ELD page and IEP goals 


D. Speech-Language Services – There are specific guidelines for Speech-Language Pathologists providing speech or language service to ELs.  


5.  Annual Summative ELPAC/ Summative Alternate ELPAC testing-  Each year, one of these instruments must be admininistered to determine the growth in ELD level of the student.  For ELPAC, the student must be provided the designated supports and/or accommodations indicated on the IEP.


6. Reclassification to Fully English Proficient (RFEP) – Some students with disabilities may have difficulty meeting state and district guidelines for Reclassification as an English Learner, despite being fluent in English. A learning, intellectual, or language disability might impact the student's ability to reach the cut off scores for passing the reading, writing, listening or speaking portions of the ELPAC.  If the IEP Team feels that the disability is impacting the student's performance on the measures required for Reclassification, there is a review process by which the team can recommend Reclassification to the EL Department in the district.  See the handbook Guidelines for Reclassification of English Learners with Disabilities (2018).