ELLs with Disabilities
ELLs may be eligible for Special Education. The IEP team must consider the need for ESL instruction as they address all students’ needs related to the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). In determining the student’s needs, IEP teams must consider both special education services and ESL instruction simultaneously, as appropriate.
All procedures for the screening, evaluation, IEP, and the provision of services and/or instruction must be in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and PA Chapter 14 Regulations.
The IEP team
It is highly recommended that the IEP team for an ELL with disabilities include an ESL professional familiar with the student’s language needs as well as the nature of his/her disability or, at a minimum, that the IEP team receive input from an ESL professional when appropriate. If a student is identified as an ELL, then the IEP team will check the Limited English proficiency under special considerations on Part I of the IEP. Any special considerations identified must be addressed in the IEP.
The academic program
ESL/Bilingual programs are identified in The Pennsylvania School Code of 1949, Chapter 4, Section 4.26, as general curriculum. The academic program for an ELL with a disability must consider ESL just as it must consider any other general curriculum services available to non-disabled students. Programmatic decisions regarding ELLs with disabilities should be made by the IEP team with appropriate representation. It is not appropriate for an ELL with a disability to be denied access to general curriculum including an English language instructional program as defined above. Special education services do not replace an English language instructional program.
Requirement for annual English language proficiency assessment
Both Titles I and III of NCLB require LEAs and state educational agencies (SEAs) to provide an annual assessment of English language proficiency for all ELLs in the state enrolled in public schools in grades Kindergarten through twelve in the domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. This includes students with disabilities.
Even though ELLs with disabilities may always achieve depressed scores in particular domains of language as a result of their specific disability, they must be given the opportunity to demonstrate their level of proficiency in English and be included in the annual state ELP assessment in all domains.
Participation in assessments
ELLs with disabilities participate in all assessments, including the annual state ELP assessment and PSSA (or PASA, if appropriate) in accordance with 34 CFR § 300.160. Participation in state and local assessments is documented in Part III of the IEP. An ELL student with a disability may participate in assessments through the use of one or more state-approved accommodations appropriate for his/her disability.
Rules governing assessment accommodations
The IEP team, with appropriate representation, may make decisions regarding assessment accommodations for ELLs with disabilities as they would for any student with a disability. The following rules govern assessment accommodations for ELLs:
• Accommodations must not invalidate the results of the assessment.
• Accommodations may be used for the entire assessment or only for part/parts
of the assessment.
• Determinations of any accommodations used must be:
– based on a student’s disability,
– made by the student’s IEP team,
– properly documented in the student’s IEP, and
– properly coded on the assessment.
For PSSA accommodations guidelines, reference the appropriate documents on the following website: http://www.pde.state.pa.us/a_and_t/cwp/view.asp?a=108&Q=45132&a_and_tNav=|678|&a_and_tNav=|
For WIDA ACCESS for ELLs® accommodations guidelines, refer to the information contained on the following website: http://www.wida.us/FAQs/accommodations.aspx