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Julie Esparza Brown Portland State University

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1 Julie Esparza Brown Portland State University
Reducing Disproportionate Representation of English Language Learner Students in Special Education: A Comprehensive Framework for Determining Difference from Disability Oregon Department of Education Eugene Convention Center October 4 and 5, 2007 Julie Esparza Brown Portland State University

2 True or False Teams must wait until ELL students are fully proficient in English in English before considering investigating their academic difficulties. True or false? ELL students should be fast-tracked for assessment and special education services in order for them not to fall further behind. True or false? Ell students who are experiencing difficulty must be instructed in English only. True or false? When no general education services are available to ELL students who are experiencing difficulty, they should be placed into a special education program in order to get academic support. True or false?

3 Disproportionality: A Problem
Disproportionate (both under and over) representation of ELL students in special education has plagued the field since first identified by Dunn in 1968. The negative effects of this include: Inappropriate labeling of students who do not have a disability Students who are misidentified are often removed from general education and lack access to grade level core curriculum Some literature (Artiles & Ortiz, 2002; Hosp & Reschly, 2003; Losen & Orfield, 2003) reports that special education programs may be ineffective at increasing student achievement.

4 Definition of Specific Learning Disability
34 CFR ) Specific learning disability is defined as follows: (i) General. The term means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

5 Definition of Specific Learning Disability
(ii) Disorders not included. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

6 National Research Center on Learning Disabilities
December 4-5, 2003 * Kansas City, Missouri Ken Kavale stated: “If the definition of SLD is not to change, then perhaps closer adherence to what is actually stipulated in the definition might be warranted. One notion clearly articulated in the SLD definition is the presence of "disorder in the basic psychological processes." Although a critical definitional feature of SLD, process deficits have been generally ignored in the identification process (Torgesen, 1979).

7 National Research Center on Learning Disabilities
December 4-5, 2003 * Kansas City, Missouri Ken Kavale stated: At best, the RTI model can only infer that a process deficit exists and, without direct assessment, there is no way to determine if a student may possess SLD as currently conceptualized (Torgesen, 2002). With modern theories about the importance of processing skills replacing outdated processing views (e.g., perceptual-motor) that were implicit in the SLD concept when first proposed, it becomes critical to re-emphasize process deficits in an operational definition of SLD (e.g., Swanson & Alexander, 1997; Hoskyn & Swanson, 2000).”

8 RTI: Changes in LD Determination
In the newly reauthorized IDEA, eligibility and identification criteria for LD have changed [614(b)(6)(A)-(B)]: When determining whether a child has a specific learning disability The LEA is not required to consider a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability. The LEA may use a process that determines if a child responds to scientific, research-based intervention as part of the evaluation.

9 RTI RTI is not required but may be used to determine if a child responds to scientific, research-based interventions as a part of the evaluation procedures [§1414(b)(6)(B)].

10 RTI Experts promote two distinct RTI models (Bradley, Danielson, & Hallahan, 2002; Fuchs, Mock, Morgan & Young, 2003), though in reality most school districts use a combination of the two (NASDSE, 2006). Both models outline tiers or stages of interventions.

11 RTI Standard Treatment Protocol: the same empirically validated treatment is used for all children with similar problems and achievement is measured against specified benchmarks (NASDE).

12 RTI Flexible Problem –Solving: problems are defined behaviorally, interventions are planned specifically for the targeted student and are provided over a reasonable period of time, performance is measured in the natural setting, and students’ progress is compared to that of peers (NASDE).

13 Tier I Critical Factor: Is effective instruction in place for all groups of students? It cannot be assumed that a comparable amount of English language exposure for an ELL students as compared to a monolingual English-speaking student means we can expect equal language competency. Depending on the model of bilingual/ESL program the student has received the amount of language instruction can vary considerably between ELL students.

14 Tier I Considerations for ELL Students
Do classroom teachers understand the following? How ELL students acquire and develop their first and second languages. How ELL students develop first and second language literacy. Know cross-cultural differences in communication. How to adapt instruction to accommodate students with different levels of English proficiency. Know how to appropriate assess ELL students in a variety of ways that allow them to demonstrate their understanding without relying solely on oral or written English that is above the level of their proficiency. Know the types of ESL or bilingual programs and services offered to students and can work collaboratively with ESL and bilingual teachers in co-planning or co-teaching lessons.

15 Literacy Instruction There is no evidence that phonemic awareness and phonics instruction in English needs to be delayed until a certain threshold of English oral language proficiency is attained. Research (Verhoeven, 1994; Change & Watson, 2000) finds that it does not matter which language literacy is taught in first; but that children must be allowed to become orally proficient in L1. Their continuing success in L2 literacy, however, is dependent on their ability to gain literacy in L1 at some point.

16 Determinant of Academic Success
The single most important determinant of academic success for ELL students is mastery of academic language. The key to content learning is their proficient use and control of academic language. ALL ELL students are “AESL” students – Academic English as a Second Language.


18 Thomas, W. & Collier, V. (1997). Language minority student achievement and program effectiveness.
Washington, DC: National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.

19 How do you Know When ELLs Need Interventions?
Research shows that it is possible to identify ELLs who are at risk for reading difficulties because of underdeveloped phonological awareness skills and/or difficulty learning sound-symbol correspondence. These students have trouble “cracking the code.” Schools tend to overlook or take a “wait and see” attitude with these students believing the difficulties are due to their lack of English proficiency and assume the skills will develop along with their L2. When young ELLs experience these difficulties, they need explicit and intensive instruction and/or intervention in phonemic/phonological awareness and phonics (explicit, systematic, and intensive in order to augment students’ abilities). ELLs in primary grades, even at the beginning stages of English language development, benefit from phonological awareness instruction and activities either in their L1 or L2 because the skills are transferable. Delaying intervention until children gain increased proficiency in English is not advised.

20 Tier II Intervention Considerations
Children cannot comprehend what they are reading in a language they cannot speak and understand. It appears that readers must be familiar with a minimum of 95% of the vocabulary in the text to comprehend. Drrop and Verhoeven (2003) found that extensive vocabulary training is crucial for efficient L2 reading comprehension. Research (Kwan & Willows, 1998) also seems to show that for young children, explicit, systematic instruction in L2 sounds/symbols benefits phonemic awareness and it does not appear to be dependent to sound/symbol instruction in L1. Students must also have alphabet knowledge.

21 Tier II Intervention Considerations
Phonological skills have been shown to accompany dyslexia in many monolingual populations but the effect is smaller in transparent orthographies (when there are explicit links between graphemes and phonemes). Research suggests that children with normally developing literacy skills show some phonological awareness in their strong language that they transfer to L2. Children’s phonological awareness in L2 can be assessed even when their L2 oral vocabulary is not very well developed.

22 Tier II Intervention Considerations
ELL students also need to explicitly learn the rules of the language (grammar). This knowledge impacts literacy development by helping with decoding and especially listening comprehension.

23 Tier II Intervention Considerations
A child’s native language experience appears to impact their listening abilities in later learned languages. Therefore, both L1 and L2 experiences will play a role in a child’s phonological domain. In the early stages of reading, phonological intervention was effective for native Spanish-speakers learning to read in English. In the early stages of reading, it appears that phonological intervention correlated with better outcomes in reading attainment than an oral proficiency or semantics intervention.

24 Tier II Intervention Considerations
Nag-Arulmani, Reddy and Buckley (2003) found that phonological intervention resulted in immediate gains in the use of phonological rules and helped reduce the gap in reading achievement for children whose home language was Spanish. These researchers also found that a ten-session program conducted over 3-5 weeks can help contain reading failure amongst children with English as their L2 literacy. The interventions must supplement the core programs.

25 Transferable Skills Notions about print, or functional awareness, can be applied to the second language. Reading strategies transfer: Monitoring comprehension Identifying and repairing comprehension problems Forming hypothesis Using genre characteristics Inferencing Questioning the author Relating new information to existing schema

26 Transferable Skills It is imperative to know a student’s literacy skills in L1 in order to know how to help them figure out what skills will transfer to L2. Bilingual students report that they use both languages to help them in reading; older students try to translate sentences or think of similar sounding words (cognates) to comprehend an unknown word.

27 Is There a Role for Standardized Assessments in RTI?
Yes! The definition of Specific Learning Disability continues to include: “disorder in one or more of the basic psychological process involved in understanding in using language, spoken or written…”

28 The Red Flags The key is children with low levels of certain metacognitive/metalinguistic awareness in their home language need to be observed further. Ask yourself if the reason for this may be that they may be linguistically weak in L1 due to lack of access/modeling. “If children have had reasonable exposure and instruction in their L1 and still have not developed certain metacognitive/metalinguistic skills, then we can suspect cognitive/developmental deficits that are likely to affect both L1 and L2 literacy development” (Durgunoglu, 2002, p. 201).

29 A New Framework for Equitable Assessment
Flanagan and Ortiz (2001) classified subtests from most of the published cognitive test batteries based on their degree of cultural loading and linguistic demand and by the CHC ability they measure. The classifications are called the Culture-Language Test Classifications (C-LTC). Flanagan and Ortiz (2001) concurrently developed the Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix (C-LIM).

30 Dimensions of Standardized Tests Related to Bias
Tests are culturally loaded: the majority of tests used by psychologists were developed and normed in U.S. and inherently reflect native anthropological content as well as the culturally bound conceptualizations of the test developers themselves. Many tests require specific prior knowledge of and experience with mainstream U.S. culture Tests require language (communication): linguistic factors affect administration, comprehension, responses, and performance on virtually all tests. Even nonverbal tests that reduce oral language requirements continue to rely on effective communication between examiner and examinee in order to measure optimal performance Tests vary on both dimensions: Tests vary significantly with respect to the degree that they are culturally loaded as well as the degree of language required Cultural Loading and Linguistic Demand Low Moderate High



33 Language Acquisition Stages
Communication Skills 2. Early Production or Early Intermediate Students access and produce linguistic units in the following ways: List of words Yes/no answers One words answers from either/or questions One word answers from general questions Two word string and short phrases Simple sentences

34 Language Acquisition Stages
Communication Skills 1. Pre-production or Beginning Emphasis is on listening comprehension activities designed to teach students to recognize the meaning of words used in communicative contest. Students may respond by: Performing an act Pointing to an item or picture Gesturing or nodding Saying yes or no Naming objects or pictures

35 Language Acquisition Stages
Communication Skills 3. Speech Emergence or Intermediate Students use a wider range of vocabulary and the sentences they produce become longer and more complex. Students response may include: Short phrases Longer phrases Complete sentences where appropriate since native speech is not always made up of complete sentences Narration

36 Language Acquisition Stages
Communication Skills 4. Intermediate Fluency or Early Advanced The students often know what he/she wants to say but searches for acceptable language patterns . Makes complex statements States opinions Report an event Gives instructions Participates in extended discourse

37 Language Acquisition Stages
Communication Skills 5. Advanced Fluency or Advanced The student comprehends most conversation and academic discourse but sometimes requires repetition. Meaning is usually clear, but vocabulary and structures are used inappropriately at times. The student reads and writes, with some difficulty, materials that are commensurate with his/her cognitive development but demonstrates some problems in grasping intended meaning.

38 Academic Language Essential components that require explicit instruction: Vocabulary: all the words that someone knows, learns, or uses Syntax: the way words are arranged to form sentences or phrases Grammar: the rules according to which the words of a language change their form and are combined into sentences

39 Academic Language “Jared is making a comparison of the impacts of chronic sleep deprivation on teens and adults.” Comprehensible English “Jared is studying the similarities and differences in the effects of regular sleep loss on teens and adults.” Changed to

40 Skills within Academic Language
Vocabulary knowledge (including the multiple meanings of many English words) The ability to use increasing word complexity and length over time Understanding complex sentence structures and the corresponding syntax of English Organization of expository paragraphs Function of transitional words


42 Conversational (BICS) vs. Academic Language (CALP)
When a student walks up to a counter to purchase an English-language magazine, she/he uses conversational language skills with the clerk and to make the purchase. On the other hand, in order to read and understand what is in the magazine, as well as discuss the pros and cons of an article, the student needs more advanced language skills. The oral and written language needed to engage in the debate of the article requires advanced and specialized vocabulary, more complex sentence structures, and more complex discourse structures than in conversational language.

43 One Definition of Culture
“Beliefs, attitudes and values are at the heart of what is meant by culture. They are also at the heart of concern about individual differences within cultural similarities. Beliefs, attitudes and values have developed out of shared and unique past experiences, and they strongly influence (while being influenced by) behavior and perceptions of the world. (Bennett, 1995).” How do you define culture?

44 The Iceberg Model of Culture
Above the surface are the visible cultural aspects Right below the surface (in brackets) are aspects that overtly influence interactions and are often sources of cultural misunderstandings Far below the surface are the most important, often invisible, aspects of a culture Source: Hamayan, 2006

45 Modern Theories of Intelligence
Modern theories of intelligence such as the Carrol-Horn-Cattell (CHC) are empirically based and identify seven broad areas of abilities. These abilities relate to specific academic skills. Knowing students’ profiles in these abilities will help to inform instruction.

46 CHC Theory This theory is a combination of the theories of three researchers: Cattel Horn Carroll CHC serves as the theoretical foundation for some of the latest cognitive assessment instruments and is gaining acceptance by assessment specialists (Fiorello & Primerano, 2005).


48 CHC Broad Abilities Comprehension-Knowledge (Gc)
The breadth and depth of knowledge of a culture The ability to communicate one’s knowledge (especially verbal) The ability to reason using previously learned knowledge or procedures Long-Term Retrieval (Glr) Ability to store information and fluently retrieve it later through association Associative storage and retrieval Influence on Achievement: Basic Reading Reading Comprehension Math Calculation Math Reasoning Influence on Achievement: All 8 SLD areas

49 CHC Broad Abilities Auditory Processing (Ga)
Ability to analyze, synthesize and discriminate auditory stimuli Ability to perceive and discriminate speech sounds that may be presented under distorted conditions Visual-Spatial Thinking (Gv) Ability to perceive, analyze, synthesize and think with visual patterns Ability to store and recall visual representations Influence on Achievement: Oral Language Listening Comprehension Basic Reading Reading Comprehension Basic Writing Skills Written Expression Influence on Achievement: Not emphasized in school

50 CHC Broad Abilities Processing Speed (Gs) Fluid Reasoning (Gf)
Ability to perform automatic cognitive tasks, particularly when measured under pressure to maintain focused attention Attentive speediness Fluid Reasoning (Gf) Ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems (using unfamiliar information or novel procedures) Basic reasoning processes Manipulating abstractions, rules, logical relations Influence on Achievement: Listening Comprehension Basic Reading Reading Comprehension Math Calculation Written Expression Influence on Achievement: Math Reasoning Math Calculation Reading Comprehension Written Expression

51 CHC Broad Abilities Short-Term Memory (Gsm)
Ability to apprehend and hold information in immediate awareness and then use it within a few seconds Influence on Achievement: Listening Comprehension Basic Reading Reading Comprehension Math Calculation Math Reasoning

52 The Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix (C-LIM)
The C-LIM was designed to answer the question: “Is the measured performance a reflection primarily of actual ability or simply one of cultural and/or linguistic difference? The results of an individual’s C-LIM can be interpreted within the following expected pattern of performance for diverse individuals.


54 Using the Framework To use this framework, practitioners will first identify appropriate tests to administer that relate to the initial referral concern based on the CHC constructs. Then, assessors can narrow down these choices to the subtests that have the most appropriate level of cultural loading and linguistic demand. After the assessment has been completed, the individual subtest scores are then recorded into one of the nine cells on the C-LIM. The following slide will give an example of a completed C-LIM.



57 Patterns on the C-LIM Three patterns may emerge on the C-LIM:
The effect of cultural loading only The effect of linguistic demand only The overall effect of both culture and language When patterns emerge that are not consistent with the expected general pattern of performance for ELL students, then practitioners should look for inter- and intra-cognitive analyses conducted previously and base interpretations on results at that level.

58 What Do the Patterns Mean?
When patterns diverge from the expected pattern of performance, then the attenuated scores may not simply be reflecting an individual’s cultural and linguistic differences, but may be reflecting some inherent weaknesses. Flanagan and Ortiz (2001) caution that the classifications are not necessarily definitive but are currently be validated by research and that the C-LIM must be used along with other sources of data.

General Guidelines for Expected Patterns of Test Performance for Diverse Individuals DEGREE OF LINGUISTIC DEMAND Low Moderate High L O W Slightly Different: 3-5 points Moderately Different: 5-7 points Markedly Different: 7-10 points Slightly Different: 5-7 points Moderately Different: 7-10 points Markedly Different: points Slightly Different: 7-10 points Moderately Different: points Markedly Different: points M D Slightly Different: points Moderately Different: points Markedly Different: points H I G Slightly Different: points Moderately Different: points Markedly Different: points DEGREE OF CULTURAL LOADING Slightly Different: Includes individuals with high levels of English language proficiency (e.g., advanced BICS/emerging CALP) and high acculturation, but still not entirely comparable to mainstream U.S. English speakers. Examples include individuals who have resided in the U.S. for more than 7 years or who have parents with at least a high school education, and who demonstrate native-like proficiency in English language conversation and solid literacy skills. Moderately Different: Includes individuals with moderate levels of English language proficiency (e.g., intermediate to advanced BICS) and moderate levels of acculturation. Examples include individuals who have resided in the U.S. for 3-7 years and who have learned English well enough to communicate, but whose parents are limited English speakers with only some formal schooling, and improving but below grade level literacy skills. Markedly Different: Includes individuals with low to very low levels of English language proficiency (e.g., early BICS) and low or very low levels of acculturation. Examples include individuals who recently arrived in the U.S. or who may have been in the U.S. 3 years or less, with little or no prior formal education, who are just beginning to develop conversational abilities and whose literacy skills are also just emerging.


61 Implications for Assessment
“Even with bilingual children for whom English is the language of instruction, testing in the first language may be necessary to identify underlying areas of weakness. Although it has been argued that testing in the language of literacy is all that is required to identify literacy difficulties amongst multilingual children, assessments that aim to propose potential causes for those literacy deficits need to consider whether such a limited testing procedure is adequate” (Everatt et al., 2004, p. 150).

62 How a Student’s Ability Profile can Inform Instruction
One cause of dyslexia has been hypothesized as a phonological deficit. Dyslexia research across non-English and transparent languages (Everatt, et al., 2004; Goswani, 2002) shows that it does not appear that a phonological deficit is the root problem. In other words, phonological weaknesses may not cause reading problems in languages with regular or highly transparent scripts (e.g., Spanish and Italian). In languages with transparent scripts, reading difficulties might be related to alternative core deficits such as in processing speed, visual/perceptual processes, short term memory, etc. One implication of this may be that if a child appears to have a reading-related problem in English and they are a native-Spanish speaker, it may be helpful to begin literacy instruction in the native language and see if the student can “break the code” in a transparent script.

63 True or False Teams must wait until ELL students are fully proficient in English in English before considering investigating their academic difficulties. True or false? ELL students should be fast-tracked for assessment and special education services in order for them not to fall further behind. True or false? Ell students who are experiencing difficulty must be instructed in English only. True or false? When no general education services are available to ELL students who are experiencing difficulty, they should be placed into a special education program in order to get academic support. True or false?

64 Closing Questions What would an effective RTI and assessment model for culturally and linguistically diverse students look like? How will we know when we have succeeded?

65 Portland State University
Contact Information Julie Esparza Brown Portland State University

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