Avoiding Overidentification of English Language Learners for Special Education: An Informational Handbook for Teachers

English learners are overrepresented in the U.S. special education-eligible population, often incorrectly identified because of their emerging English proficiency skills. It can take up to seven years for a student to acquire English to the point of fully accessing the curriculum without scaffolding in the first language. Therefore, many native Spanish speakers being educated in U.S. schools where curriculum is presented in English struggle in school. Some general education teachers are less than fully equipped with tools and strategies to help these students succeed in their classrooms and avoid the temptation to eventually refer them for assessment for special education eligibility. The product of this project is a six-chapter handbook with instructional and assessment examples of strategies to help general education classroom teachers a) develop English learners reading, writing, speaking and listening, and academic language skills; b) make the curriculum accessible to students learning English; and, c) avoid unnecessarily referral of English learners for special education assessment. Keywords: English Language Learners (ELLs), overidentification for special education, Response to Intervention (RtI)