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ERIC Number: ED546343
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 171
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2676-3212-8
Factors Affecting the Identification of Hispanic English Language Learners in Special Education
Becker, Gail I.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Northcentral University
This qualitative phenomenological study revealed factors affecting the overrepresentation of Hispanic English language learners (ELLs) in special education. An analysis of the lived experiences of school professionals indicate multiple causes that determine students to be disabled often in violation of state and federal guidelines. Child study team (CST) members from an urban northeast district with a large ELL population responded to open-ended questions. From this group, 14 participated in semi-structured interviews to determine the role their efficacy beliefs exert during assessment of linguistically diverse students from preschool to 12th grade. Additionally, interviews with four teachers involved in an exploratory dual language preschool program within the same district compared and contrasted their experiences both before and after the availability of this program option. The control group classes (n [approximate] 30) were made up of English speaking, Spanish speaking, and Spanish/English speaking children at the 3-year-old age level. The other English language learner preschoolers were all randomly assigned to general classes. Interviews with staff involved in the pilot program determined that children in the program for a year were all viewed as successful, as measured by the Early Screening Inventory-Revised (ESI-R) and teacher reported beliefs'. There were 23 (13.6%) randomized students in the general education program that appeared unsuccessful or viewed as having a potential disability as reported ESI-R scores one year later. The prominent themes that were illuminated from the data analysis indicated that many forces may work in tandem to contribute to disproportionality. These themes included issues concerning second language acquisition such as time to learn, facilitation of second language through use of first language, and need for bilingual staff. Additionally, the special education identification process, bias in testing, and lack of cultural competency by the staff was also cited. Participants expressed the benefits of bilingualism, endorsing thoughtful bilingual/dual language programs, and the need for greater collaboration in special education decisions concerning ELL students. School professionals supported more preservice training and ongoing inservice professional development on this topic. Recommendations for future research include exploring the underidentification of English language learners and conversely, limited placement of ELLs into gifted programs. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Preschool Education; Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A