Overidentification of English Language Learners into Special Education: A Checklist for Educators

The number of English Language Learners (ELLs) overidentified into special education services is growing tremendously every year. The disproportionate number of minority students referred to special education is cause for concern among all educators today. General education teachers are the first to encounter these students and as such, to dictate which path these students may take. Yet many of them are unprepared to meet these challenges. How can general education teachers know whether these students truly need special education? What if their academic challenges are due to typical development of emerging language acquisition skills rather than characteristics of a specific disability? The product of this project is a series of comprehensive checklists developed to assist educators in more accurately identifying and differentiating between the characteristics typically seen in ELLs without disabilities, and those seen in ELL students that may require referral to special education services.