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Special education students who are also English Learners must have special considerations as part of the IEP planning and implementation process.
A special education student who is an English Learner must have his/her English development addressed. In addition, there are specific requirements as to how those needs are addressed for special education legal compliance.
Initial Entry into School - When first entering the public school system, 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), the student must participate in English Language Development Testing. If the student is not able to participate meaningfully in the CELDT, there are two alternative assessments:
Preschool Language Acquisition Tool (PLAT) for special education preschoolers
Ventura County Comprehensive Alternate Language Proficiency Survey (VCCALPS) – designed for students with moderate to severe disabilities who already have taken or will take the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) (for students 5 years and older)
Initial Eligibility – If a student has been identified as an English Learner, 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.
IEP – The IEP for a special education English Learner has certain requirements:
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
Annual Goals (and Objectives, if applicable) – For each Annual Goal, the language of instruction must be noted, and all goals must be linguistically appropriate, meaning they are appropriate for the student’s EL level. In addition, there must be 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.
A “special factor” affecting learning on the LRE page – makes reference to the ELD page and IEP goals
Speech-Language Services – There are specific guidelines for Speech-Language Pathologists providing speech or language service to ELs.
Reclassification to Fully English Proficient (RFEP) – Some students with disabilities may have difficulty meeting state and district guidelines for Reclassification. If the IEP Team feels that the disability is impacting 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.