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English Language Learners Referral and Assessment: Gwinnett County Public Schools Procedure (school-aged students) Sandra Wagner Bilingual Speech-Language.

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Presentation on theme: "English Language Learners Referral and Assessment: Gwinnett County Public Schools Procedure (school-aged students) Sandra Wagner Bilingual Speech-Language."— Presentation transcript:

1 English Language Learners Referral and Assessment: Gwinnett County Public Schools Procedure (school-aged students) Sandra Wagner Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist/Diagnostician

2 Objectives Understanding the importance of gathering pre-referral data Acquiring fundamentals of appropriate ELL referrals Completing thorough assessment and writing comprehensive report Understanding the repercussions of inappropriate referrals and how to address ELL student needs in the classroom

3 A COMMUNICATION DIFFERENCE/ DIALECT A COMMUNICATION DIFFERENCE/ DIALECT is a variation of a symbol system used by a group of individuals that reflects and is determined by shared regional, social, or cultural/ethnic factors. A regional, social, or cultural/ethnic variation of a symbol system should not be considered a disorder of speech or language. ASHA Conference 2003 ASHA Documents

4 Language Learning Disability A language-learning disability is defined as a student’s underlying inability to learn and process any language adequately. A language –learning disability exists when a student tries to learn two language codes with an underlying language system that is inadequate even for one Roseberry-McKibbin 2000

5 BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) Language proficiency in everyday contexts Basic vocabulary: simple nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions Conversational pragmatics: simple speech acts, conversational turn-taking, requesting clarification 1-3 years to acquire In most language samples (Cummins, 1984)

6 CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) Manipulation of language in decontextualized academic situations Academic language; advanced semantics: abstract concepts, conjunctions Academic pragmatics: classroom interaction, routines, speeches, decontextualized settings (i.e., phone conversation) 5-7 years to acquire… 5-10 (Thomas & Collier, 2002) Many formal tests (Cummins 1984)

7 Did you know? The average native English speaker gains about ten months of academic growth in one ten- month academic year. ELL students must outgain the native speaker by making 1.5 year’s progress in English for six successive school years. Thus, in order to have skills that are commensurate with those of native English speakers, ELLs must make nine years progress in six years. Thomas & Collier, 1998

8 More lingo… Interference or transfer: communicative behavior from L1 transfers onto L2 (“He no do his work”; “I am more big”) Silent period: lack or little output + learning rules of new language; focus on listening and comprehension (younger=longer); how long? Acculturation: psychological integration with speakers of L2; EL acquires L2 to the degree that they are acculturate (integrate with L2 speakers)

9 …a few more… Code Switching: alternating between 2 languages within single sentences or discourse (“Mi maestra say good job”) Language Loss: if use of L1 decreases, it’s common for EL to lose skills in that language while acquiring L2 proficiency Additive Bilingualism: L1+L2 reinforced=high proficiency in both. L1 nurtured. Goal: fluent and balanced bilingual

10 …last ones, promise! ACCESS test (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State to State): secure large-scale English language proficiency assessment given to Kindergarten through 12th graders who have been identified as ELs CAN DO chart: Descriptors commonly used by ESL teachers in coaching general education teachers about differentiated instruction for ELs

11 IDEA (2006) Section §300.34 Evaluation Procedures other evaluation materials native language most likely accurate knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally unless clearly not feasible Each public agency must ensure that assessments and other evaluation materials used to assess a child are provided and administered in the child’s native language or other mode of communication and in the form most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to provide or administer.


13 BICCS (Bilingual Inventory of Classroom Communication Skills)

14 CAN DO chart (

15 ACCESS summary sheet

16 PILS (Parent Inventory of Specific Language Skills)

17 Parent Questionnaire




21 Resources- sound chart

22 Resources- phonology

23 Resources- syntax/morphology

24 What have we learned today? White Flags Dialectal differences in sound production Morphology errors Language loss Silent period Code-switching Disfluency in only one language Red Flags Parent concerns Bilingual teacher concerns Family history of disability Siblings performing better Inadequate pragmatic skills (e.g., reported by peers)

25 Finally, don’t forget… CAN BE Limited experiences (in using a language) CAN BE solely responsible for communication differences/ difficulties No absolutes, no simple cases, no assumptions The more evidence the better Identifying communication disorders is most difficult when background includes another language Team approach to investigate or ‘eliminate’

26 You can contact me at:

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