Meeting the Needs of English Learners with Disabilities Written for



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Response: Yes. In most cases since all content area teachers must have certification in “English language development now.” (see CTC chart in Chapter 2). Frequently special education teachers will provide this service during English language arts or a support pull out period.
Question: May a parent of a student with an EL student with an IEP waive ELD services?

Response: A parent may waive their child’s placement in a structured English immersion (SEI) program; however, the IEP must still include linguistically appropriate goals and objectives and the student must continue to receive instruction that promotes English language development and take CELDT.
Question: When developing goals for students in special education, is it required that the ELD or “linguistically appropriate” goal be a separate goal from the English language arts (ELA) goal?

Response: The regulations require that the IEP team include “linguistically appropriate” goals (and objectives if appropriate) in the IEPs of all EL students. This ELD goal needs to address the student’s present levels of performance in English language acquisition. Typically, it is best practice to take this information from the latest CELDT results, or an alternative to CELDT, unless there is a more recent measure available. The ELD needs may align to needs in ELA and it may be possible to combine the ELA/ELD needs into one goal. Caution: It would not be compliant to consider goals developed in ELA to be linguistically appropriate if they do not align to the student’s current levels of language acquisition.

Section VII
Reclassification of

English Learners with Disabilities

Understanding Reclassification of English Learners as Fluent English Proficient (RFEP)
Reclassification is the process used by local education agencies (LEAs) or school districts to make a determination if an EL student has acquired sufficient English skills or fluency to perform successfully in academic subjects without English language development support.

When EL students demonstrate that they are able to compete effectively or are commensurate with English-speaking peers, they are then reclassified as fluent English speakers (RFEP). The reclassification process in public schools in California is based on guidelines approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) and is based on California Education Code Section 313(d). The reclassification procedures developed by the California Department of Education (CDE) utilize multiple criteria in determining whether to reclassify a student as being proficient in English.


California State Board of Education Reclassification Guidelines
It is important for special educators to note that the reclassification of EL students who receive special education services is not a delineated IEP team function in federal or state regulations. An IEP team may only make reclassification decisions if the LEA has stipulated in its policies that the IEP team is the “reclassification team” at school sites for students who are English learners and are in special education. Best practice is for the school reclassification team to collaborate and participate with special education staff in a meeting outside of the IEP to make reclassification decisions.

Below are the four State of California required criteria for reclassifying a student from EL to full English proficient (RFEP). As per the State of California State Board of Education CELDT Guidelines (2009-2010), there are some allowances made within each guideline that may apply to students with disabilities and will guide teams in making final decisions about whether or not to reclassify students as RFEP.


Criteria 1: Assessment of Language Proficiency Using an Objective

Assessment Instrument

CELDT is used as the primary criterion for the “objective assessment” in California. Students should be considered for reclassification whose overall proficiency level is early advanced or higher and: Listening is intermediate or higher, Speaking is intermediate or higher, Reading is intermediate/higher, and Writing is intermediate/higher.


Criteria 2: Teacher Evaluation

Teachers, general or special education, shall make recommendations about whether or not they feel the student has acquired English language skills that will allow him or her to be successful in learning in English commensurate with English speaking peers. Teachers may base their decisions on classroom work samples, criterion referenced, classroom assessments, progress towards academic IEP goals and objectives, and overall performance in the classroom.


It may be a helpful to provide teachers with a checklist such as the Solom in order for them to provide more objective information regarding the student’s skills in English.

Criteria 3: Parent Opinion and Consultation

Provide notice to parents or guardians of their rights and encourage their participation in the reclassification process by inviting them to a face-to-face meeting.


Criteria 4: Comparison of Performance in Basic Skills

“Performance in basic skills” means the score and/or performance level resulting from a recent administration of the California English–Language Arts Standards Test (CST in English–language arts) as set forth in the following criteria:


1) CST score in English/language arts (ELA) must be at least

beginning of “basiclevel to midpoint of basic - each district may select exact cut point.


(2) Pupils with scores above the cut point selected by the school district should be considered for reclassification.
(3) For pupils scoring below the cut point, school districts should attempt to determine whether “factors other than English language proficiency are responsible for low performance on the CST in English–language arts and whether it is reasonable to reclassify the student.” The impact of a student’s disability could be a factor to consider.
Application of the Four Criteria to Students with Disabilities
The “Guidelines for Reclassification of English Learners” document provides clarification for applying the four criteria to local initial identification and reclassification decisions. These guidelines follow in their entirety.
For criteria number one, the assessment of language proficiency using an objective assessment instrument, the CBE Guidelines stipulate the following:
“Those students whose overall proficiency level is in the upper end of the intermediate level also may be considered for reclassification if additional measures determine the likelihood that a student is proficient in English”.
Many students with disabilities often have a difficult time scoring at the overall level of advanced or higher on CELDT due to a learning or other type of disability after many years of instruction in English; however, the reclassification team may feel that the student is proficient in English and that further instruction in English language development may not improve their academic performance. For these students, the team may want to follow the guidance of the California Board of Education (CBE) Guidelines and check to see if the students’ overall proficiency is in or close to the upper end of the intermediate level on CELDT.

In addition, for lower functioning students, the IEP team may designate an alternate assessment to CELDT in order to measure English language proficiency. For these students, the reclassification team would consider the data from those alternative measures for consideration of the first criteria.


For criteria number two, teacher evaluation, the CBE State Board Adopted CELDT Guidelines stipulate that the reclassification team should consider that “incurred deficits in motivation and academic success unrelated to English language proficiency do not preclude a student from reclassification.” A disability may be a factor that contributes to low academic achievement and is unrelated to “English language proficiency.”
The reclassification team should conference closely with all teachers of the student, including special educators, to determine if a lack of or limited academic achievement in the classroom is due to other factors such as a disability or motivation.
For criteria number three, parent opinion and consultation, it is important for the reclassification team to collaborate closely with the parent(s) and seek input about whether or not the parent(s) views their child as being proficient in English and/or is able to perform successfully in an education environment where the instruction is in English without English language development support. Some parents may not be able to attend the meeting; however, it is best practice for the team to seek and consider parent input when making reclassification decisions.
For criteria number four, comparison of performance in basic skills, the CBE Guidelines stipulate that for pupils scoring below the cut point, school districts should attempt to determine whether “factors other than English language proficiency are responsible for low performance on the CST in English–language arts and whether it is reasonable to reclassify the student.”
Reclassification teams need to consider whether or not the impact of a student’s disability, “other than English language proficiency”, is a contributing factor to the student’s low achievement on standardized tests of basic skills or CST. If they determine that the low performance (lower than the beginning point of “basic”) is due to a disability rather than English language proficiency, they must document this when making the decision of whether or not to reclassify a student.
In addition, some students with disabilities, as designated in their IEP, take the California Modified Achievement test (CMA) or the CAPA test rather than the CST. The reclassification team should take the student’s performance in basic skills as evidenced by these alternative measures into consideration.
It is important for reclassification teams (including both regular and special educators) to remember the purpose for identifying students as English learners when making a determination if an English learner has acquired sufficient English skills or fluency to perform successfully in academic subjects without English language development support. Educators should not make hasty decision when deciding whether or not to reclassify all students. English language development is a valuable service that specifically targets standard skills required to be fluent in English. If the team feels a student would still benefit from this service because their English skills are weak, they probably should not make the decision to reclassify the student at this time.
Sample Reclassification Scenarios
SCENARIO 1: Student With Autism Who Takes an Alternative Assessment to CELDT

Maria is a 6th grade student who has autism. She has an average to low average ability level. She is verbal; however a lot of her speaking is more “echolalia” or repetitive of what she hears. Her pragmatic and comprehension skills are low in both languages. She functions at approximately the 3rd grade level in math and 1st -2nd grade level in reading and writing. She was classified as an English learner upon entering school in kindergarten. The IEP team has designated that Maria will take an alternative assessment to CELDT.


Below is an analysis of Maria’s English language development based on the four reclassification criteria:
Criteria 1: Assessment of Language Proficiency Using an Objective Assessment Instrument
Since Maria took an alternative assessment to CELDT, the reclassification team used the data from the alternative measure Basics 2 to determine if Maria meets this criterion.
Results of Alternative Criteria (Sample using Basics 2 checklist)


Skill Area

Yes

No

Pre Writing

X




Communicates in Writing







Responds to Auditory Stimuli

X




Receptive Language (Verbal)

X




Expressive Language (Verbal)

X




Articulation

X




Receptive Language (Non Verbal)




X

Words Independently

X




Attends to Printed Material

X




Reading Readiness

X




Basic Reading Skills

X




Reading Comprehension




X

Overall Indication Student is Fluent in English

X





Note: The student received an overall “no” in the receptive language and reading comprehension areas; however, the multi-disciplinary reclassification team (to include special educators and English language development experts) determined that these relative weaknesses were due to the student’s autism versus language differences when compared to high performance in English language skill areas. The team in this scenario determined the student was fluent in English since they felt the Basics 2 assessment data indicated the student had acquired and intermediate or above level of English language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Criteria 2: Teacher Evaluation

Maria’s teachers indicated that they feel she has developed English language proficiency as evidenced by her day to day classroom performance (not related to her autism or disability).


Remember: Incurred deficits in motivation & academic success unrelated to English language proficiency do not preclude a student from reclassification.
Criteria 3: Parent Opinion and Consultation

Maria’s parent(s) feels she has acquired the English skills needed to be successful in school.


Criteria 4: Comparison of Performance in Basic Skills

“Performance in basic skills means the score and/or performance level resulting from a recent administration of the California Standards Test in English language arts.”


Maria took CAPA Level IV (for her 6th grade level) versus CST as indicated in her IEP. She scored at the low end of “proficient” on the CAPA in ELA. Relying on the Maria’s CAPA Test data, the reclassification team determined that Maria met Criteria 4.
Should Maria be reclassified based on the data above? Yes, if the reclassification team concurs that Maria met the four CBE reclassification criteria.
In this scenario the reclassification team felt that Maria met

the four CBE reclassification criteria and made the decision to

designation her as RFEP.

SCENARIO 2 : High Functioning Student With Learning Disabilities Who Takes CELDT and CST

Jorge is a 8th grade student who is eligible for special education as learning disabled. He is a highly verbal student but struggles with a reading and writing disability due to visual processing deficiencies. He functions at approximately the 7th grade level in math and 4th- 5th grade level in reading and writing. He was classified as an English learner upon entering school in kindergarten.


Below is an analysis of Jorge’s English language development based on the four CBE reclassification criteria:
Criteria 1: Assessment of Language Proficiency Using an Objective Assessment Instrument
Jorge’s CELDT test scores were:


Skill Area

Beginning

Early

Intermediate

Intermediate

Early

Advanced

Advanced

Listening










X




Speaking













X

Reading




X










Writing




X










Overall







X (upper end)







The reclassification team determined that Jorge did meet the CELDT assessment criteria for proficiency even though he did not obtain an overall proficiency level of early advanced or higher and writing was at the early intermediate level. The IEP team took into consideration other measures to determine if Jorge is proficient since his overall CELDT level is in the upper end of intermediate.

The team took into consideration other curriculum based measures from the classroom in reading and writing when Jorge was allowed to use his accommodation of using a word processor and spell checker and auditory assistance with sounding out multiple-syllable words. The team also reviewed past test results from Woodcock Johnson Revised III (WJIII) and the Test of Written Language (TOWL). The IEP team ruled out that his lack of proficiency in reading and writing was not due to his lack of proficiency in English. This was determined by analyzing the types of error patterns he made and by reviewing his overall progress made towards achieving his IEP goals in reading and writing.


Criteria 2: Teacher Evaluation

Jorge’s teachers (both special and general education) felt he has developed English language proficiency as evidenced by his day to day classroom performance (not related to his learning disability).


Remember: Incurred deficits in motivation & academic success unrelated to English language proficiency do not preclude a student from reclassification.
Criteria 3: Parent Input

Jorge’s parent(s) felt he has acquired the English skills needed to be successful in school.



Criteria 4: Comparison of Performance in Basic Skills

“Performance in basic skills” means the score and/or performance level resulting from a recent administration of the California Standards Test in English language arts.”


Jorge’s CST scores fall slightly below the midpoint of basic in ELA when provided accommodations of more time, directions read aloud and paraphrased, and testing broken in to shortened time segments; however, the reclassification team felt that “factors other than English language development” were the reason his scores were low (his learning disability).
Remember: For pupils scoring below the cut point, school districts should attempt to determine whether factors other than English language proficiency (such as a disability) are responsible for low performance on the CST in English language arts and whether it is reasonable to reclassify the student.
SCENARIO 3: Low Functioning 3rd Grade Student with Low Cognitive Abilities

Yu Li is a 3rd grade student who is eligible for special education as having mental retardation. She functions at approximately the grade K level in math and preschool level in reading and writing. She was classified as an English Iearner upon entering school in kindergarten. Yu Li ’s IEP stipulates that she will take an alternative assessment to CELDT (Basics 2 Checklist).


Criteria 1: Assessment of Language Proficiency Using an Objective Assessment Instrument

Yu Li’s reclassification team analyzed her Basics 2 data to determine if she had acquired sufficient English language skills to allow her to function in an academic English environment. The team did take into consideration her low cognitive ability. The team noted that Yu Li has only received services as an English language learner for three years. The team felt that Yu Li’s limited progress in English may be due to her low cognitive ability since students functioning in her intellectual range learn new information much more slowly than their typical developing peers. The team felt strongly that, although her disability impacts her ability to acquire English, she continues to need further development in ELD in order to make optimal academic progress.


Based on CELDT scores below Yu Li did not meet Criteria 1

Skill Area

Yes

No

Pre Writing




X

Communicates in Writing




X

Responds to Auditory Stimuli

X




Receptive Language (Verbal)

X




Expressive Language (Verbal)




X

Articulation




X

Receptive Language (Non Verbal)




X

Words Independently

X




Attends to Printed Material

X




Reading Readiness

X




Basic Reading Skills




X

Reading Comprehension




X

Overall Indication Student is Fluent in English




X





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