Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Needing Some Research

Has anyone else had trouble getting a child into Special Ed because they are in ESL?

I'm needing some data that says how long an average child is in ESL before they have "mastered" the language, especially if the research includes scores from the Woodcock Johnson Muñoz test.

If this sounds at all familiar, let me know....


CureForCrazy said...

My niece is an English Language Learner (ESL student). Since kindergarten she has struggled with literacy as a result of a learning disability. Her teachers dismissed her problems as being ESL-related. The underlying problem was obvious to me because she not only had difficulty expressing her thoughts in English, but also putting them into words in Spanish. She began receiving EC services in 4th grade and is slowly becoming a more fluent reader.

I am a TA in NC and know that although many ESL students can pick up basic playground-level language quickly, it takes at least 7 years for them to fully understand academic language in the classroom. Look up BICS and CALP (Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency). A definition can be found at Colorin Colorado (http://www.colorincolorado.org/educators/questions/professional_development#13169).

jwg said...

Basic question first. What language did they test her in? If she is not fluent in English they have to test her in her native language. School districts hate this because it usually means payin an outsider to do it, but tough. There should be some advocacy group around that can help.

DynamicDuo said...

We had alot of difficulty getting the girls evaluated for special ed when they were younger. They started ESL in second grade, we were told they couldn't be evaluated for special ed until they had been in USA for three years. They defined their difficulties as cultural differences. ESL and special ed are two totally seperate needs - ESL cannot replace special ed services. Even after they qualified for Special Ed, our old school tried to use ESL as their special ed english service. I had to really study up on and talk with PACER of MN, before we got the services they needed. I ended up signing off on ESL because our girls were never bilingual and the school said they couldn't provide both. A child who is in ESL can remain in ESL until they are able to pass their English proficiency testing, all the way through college if necessary. MN Education Department has the terms and definitions on their website. Special Ed services and/or evaluation must be requested by parents, teachers, others who have valid connection with child etc... It took four request by different teachers before our old school would evaluate the girls. Go to the above mentioned website, and even call in to them and talk with someone. We lost four years of crucial learning time because I didn't push hard enough. If I get a chance I'll dig through my files and see if I can find you some more info.

nancy said...

Uh...good luck. We are just now to the point where K's Title I math teacher feels she needs to be tested for special ed. She has a lot of trouble retaining math facts and how to solve simple math problems and processes. Our local AEA gal was at the recent child study meeting before school. She seemed to really pick up on every little success the teachers mentioned concerning our daughter, though they were small things and so much more was shared about how she struggles in school with simple directions, concepts, etc. I was told later by my sis-in-law, (masters in special ed, former special ed teacher turned middle school consumer science teacher...hey, small school plug you in where there's a need) that the trend is to make it really hard to get kids in the programs. She said it used to be easier, but we're assuming it all boils down to funding. AEA gal said testing should have been done before April, that she is "breaking some rules" for us. Not my fault. I'm calling today to make certain she is following up on the testing she needs to do to get things in place for K for middle school next year. In the mean time, we're also paying some big bucks for some tutoring now and this summer to try to get her caught up in language and math.

So my answer is they will probably try to say it's language, give you the "5-7yrs" slogan...drag feet. I heard that from the AEA gal, who I believe heard it originally from me! I responded that we simply can't wait that amount of time and then decide maybe something else is going on. Now really...would they have any excuse for any other child who wasn't learning the language? Frustrated, can you tell? To be fair, there is a time period where it's really hard to tell whether it's just a language issue. But our daughter A in OH (don't you love my abbreviations!)will graduate with special ed degree in May. She says they have all kinds of ways to test and to eliminate what isn't an issue and pinpoint what is. I believe her, degree yet or not. She doesn't have any funding to lose (full ride basketball scholarships and free grad degree program), if K gets admitted to a special ed program and has an IEP. I love having a daughter with a special ed degree and a middle school guidance couselor in the family. Our own personal trainer is also nice too, but she can't make me do it!

Nancy below your border

Johannah said...

JWG is correct- you cannot legally refuse a child special education services because s/he also requires ESL. Instead, the child needs to be assessed across all suspected areas of disability in his/her dominant language. If it is unclear which language is dominant, an ESL teacher can do testing to make that determination.

Where the eligibility challenge comes in is proving that the disability (not the language barrier) is preventing appropriate access to the curriculum.

For most people, 5-8 years of language study/use is considered necessary before being able to use the language to learn new material.