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Special Needs Students and Assessment for ELLs

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Briana Sanchez

on 1 November 2014

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Transcript of Special Needs Students and Assessment for ELLs

Special Needs Students and Assessment for ELLs
Created By: Briana Sanchez

Minority students and ELLs are among the largest groups placed in special education programs.
In addition to the misconceptions of ELLs unique culturally and linguistically diversity (CLD), special needs students have also been shrouded with mystery and stereotyping.
Their behaviors have been misconstrued thus making unfair judgments about what they know and what they are able to do.
Special needs ELLs have been inequitably misdiagnosed, tested, labeled, tracked, and placed in special education services.
IDEA has impacted the way linguistic and cultural diversity should be considered in schools.
IDEA has included language acquisition as an element when referring and placing students in special programs.
Demographic Imbalance in Special Education
There is an overrepresentation of minority students in special education classrooms and an underrepresentation of ethnically and culturally diverse students in gifted education programs.
The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the U.S. Office
for Civil Rights (OCR) indicate the reasoning:
students may be unserved and receive services that do not meet their needs
students may be misclassified or inappropriately
placement in special education classes may be
a form of discrimination
This calls for a need to narrow gaps and ensure that the
environment is created to cultivate diversity for all students,
including the culturally and linguistically diverse special needs population.
Guidelines for Identifying and Placing Special Needs ELLs
When placing special needs ELLs in a classroom a collaborative effort in which teams of professionals- parents, school personal, and teachers- make up a multi-disciplinary team to ensure ethical and professional obligations are not compromised.
In order to evaluate and assess students' needs and expected goals, there are guidelines that need to be kept in mind:
The main guideline involves the legal mandates and entitlements
Another guideline involves maintaining collaboration among practitioners and professionals working with CLD special needs students
IDEA and its updated regulations as well as the Title VII bilingual mandates should be the basis for determining eligibility and making recommendations for CLD placement .
Demographic Imbalance in Special Education Cont.
Burnette offers the following suggestions to reduce the disproportionate representation of minority students in special education programs:
develop a district-wide vision for the education of all students
review traditional school practices to identify and address factors that may contribute to student difficulties
redefine staff roles to support a shared responsibility for all students
form policy-making bodies that include community members, and promote partnerships with service agencies and cultural organizations
help families get social, medical, mental health, and
other support services
recruit and retain educators who have had course
work and experience with diverse populations
and who are from diverse
IEP Team
Recommendations for IEP
Diversify the composition of the multidisciplinary teams and offer training
Compare student performance in both native and secondary language
Consider the processes and factors associated with second language acquisition
Use alternatives to traditional standardized testing
Identify diverse life experiences that may affect learning
Assessing ELLs with Special Needs
Reliable assessment instruments can hardly be found to have 100% accuracy, however, many assessments are widely used given that they are the best options available.
This can be problematic when testing special needs students and those who come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
These measures are unfairly inaccurate judgments about the students' knowledge and skills.
When assessing ELLs with special needs:
Students must be assessed in their dominant language
If interpreters are used, their language skills must be evaluated to ensure that they have adequate proficiency to serve in this capacity
Instruments and procedures should be selected so as to provide comparison of student's language skills and academic achievement in their native language and in English
If test norms are not appropriate, or if standardized administration procedures were violated, scores should not be reported
Multidisciplinary teams involved in decisions about special education eligibility and in development of instructional plans should include individuals with expertise in the education of linguistically and culturally diverse learners
Characteristics of CLD Special Needs Students
Individual differences should be the basis for working with all learners because all learners are unique.
Special needs ELLs display certain characteristics that may be common across the learning spectrum:
discrepancies between verbal and non-verbal learning
perceptual disorders
language disorders
metacognitive deficits
memory difficulties
motor disorders
social-emotional functioning
difficulty attending and focusing
culture/language shock
reading dysfunctions
written expression skill deficits
Instructional Strategies for ELLs with Special Needs
The following are curriculum guidelines that should be considered when differentiating instructional practices for CLD ELLs:
academic content should be relative to students' culture, background, environment, and prior experiences
multiple content knowledge and skills that are reinforced over time and across subject areas should be emphasized
cognitive and academic goals should be integrated
maintain high expectations while valuing diversity
active learning and inquiry-based tasks

Differentiating Instruction for ELLs with Special Needs
Instructional planning for special needs ELLs involves integrating various principles and approaches in a comprehensive manner.
Instructional differentiation involves providing opportunities based on the situational and contextual demands of the learning/teaching event.
Effective teaching of ELLs with special needs emphasize the following:
learning and development that facilitates joint productive activities among students
learners' prior knowledge and learning
educational activities within the context of students' prior experience and skills
complex solutions and higher-level thinking
ongoing verbal dialogue

Instructional Strategies for ELLs with Special Needs Cont.
Instructional differentiation recommendations based on principles:
establish a relaxed environment in the learning/teaching situation which encourages students' use of both language
labeling objects in the classroom in multiple languages
encouraging the use of bilingual dictionaries and showing students' how to use them
using repetition and practice to help students acquire prosodic and suprasegmental features
highlighting key words through reiteration, increased volume and slight exaggeration, and writing them on the board
using gestures, facial expressions, voice changes, ect. to communicate and rely the meanings of new terms
modeling and using hands-on experiences
supplementing instruction and descriptions with visuals
emphasizing communication rather than form
indirectly correcting students by restating their incorrect comments in correct form
Universal Design for Instruction (UDI) for Special Needs ELLs
The CAST approach of UDL builds on the premise of diversity as the "norm, not the exception."
CAST has established 3 principles that guide the UDL:
Principle 1
: Multiple Means of Representation
Principle 2
: Multiple Means of Expression
Principle 3
: Multiple Means of Engagement
Implications and Applications
Diagnosing and placing all students should be revisited on sound principles:
These principles should be comprehensive and embrace universal elements that cultivate diversity as a rich phenomenon in schools.
Practices should value the linguistic and cognitive abilities of learners and be varied and flexible as they seek to provide access to the learners based on their unique abilities and circumstances.
Much more needs to be done to ensure that fair and equitable services and accommodations are provided.
Assessment and evaluation in schools are generally intended to ensure learning outcomes are accomplished.
Assessment serves several purposes:
measure knowledge and skills throughout linguistic and academic development
inform instructional practices as teachers make it necessary adjustments and modifications in their teaching
meet state and national standards
responding to stakeholder guidelines
Assessment Cont.
Rather assessment needs to evaluate the "whole learner:"
intended to ensure learning outcomes are accomplished
inform instructional practices as teachers make the necessary adjustments and modifications in their teaching
works best when they provide an account of the whole learner based on his/her abilities, talents, realities, needs, language, cultural and personal experiences
assessment methods should be conducive with the students' frames of reference and socio-cultural schemata in order to be valid and reliable
Evaluation approaches should consist of:
sound principles
assessment in schools should not result in punitive measures, syllogistic comparisons or conclusions, unfair tracking, biased labeling, or other inequitable practices
The ultimate goal should include driving the best
practices and making necessary adjustments to
cultivate promising educational consequences for
all students
Context and Background
In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education published a report that stated the U.S. is a nation at risk.
Then in 1986, Holmes group and the Carnegie Task Force released their findings to the public about the poor performance of schools
Demographic changes and the growing linguistic diversity in schools dictated re-examining school failure
NCLB brings about desired educational outcomes
School performance outcomes have become tied to school funding
Reform efforts and educational initiatives have affected
all educational input in schools
The process of language education should rest on
democratic principles and values
Effective accountability is essential for high quality
professional teaching
Shifting Paradigms in Assessment
Educators have always struggled to identify the magic formula that accounts for the best educational outcomes in diverse schools.
While there has been a consensus about the best way to teach, educators have been bombarded with buzz words and infomercial practices that claim to be the key to successful learning and teaching.
Lieber, Mikel, and Pervil (1994) outlined the paradigm shift in teaching and assessment that has direct implications for structuring curricular activities and integrating equitable assessment.
Lieber, Mikel, & Pervil (1994)
Traditional Paradigm
external rewards
contrived and disconnected
limited choices
autocratic decision making
voice of authority
single perspective
cultural uniformity
one approach
predetermined goals
competitive learning
Democratic Paradigm
internal rewards
authentic and purposeful
free choice
shared decision making
student voice
multiple perspective
cultural diversity
multiple approaches
emergent goals
collaborative problem solving
Shifting Paradigms in Assessment Cont.
The bombardment of external assessments would water-down the curriculum and eventually place both students and teachers at a disadvantage.
There is hardly any single assessment approach that would meet all elements within each of the democratic paradigm descriptors.
There is a wide range of assessment options that can be combined, but that will take a lot of time and energy that school conditions do not allow.
Standards, Testing, and Assessing ELLs
The standards based movement has generally been beneficial to the educational system and the teaching profession.
Education has become more clearly defined by the expected standards students and teachers alike are expected to meet.
The standards movement has offered a helpful set of goals, benchmarks, and expectations that outline the scope and sequence of the curriculum and instruction as well as assessment and evaluation.
The standards may have made it more feasible to ensure accountability in schools based on common goals and objectives (NCLB).

Standards, Testing, and Assessing ELLs
A major drawback of the standards based instruction and the accountability measures imposed by NCLB involves the overemphasis of high-stakes assessment testing.
The California English Language Development Test (CELDT) was developed to:
identify students with limited English proficiency
determine the level of English language proficiency of those students
assess the progress of limited English-proficient students in acquiring the skills of listening, reading, writing, and speaking in English.
English Language Development (ELD): A Roadmap for Teaching ELLs
The original state and federal standards have a series of elements that focus on the linguistically and culturally diverse.
For effective use of standards and frameworks, a systematic, consistent and sustained process should be implemented throughout the year.
Instruction and assessment should be linked to the elements of standards and guidelines.
ELD: A Roadmap for Teaching ELLs Cont.
ELD standards are addressed in assessing as well as teaching ELLs.
Labels are used to describe the levels of ELLs language proficiency:
Beginning (B)
Early Intermediate (EI)
Intermediate (I)
Early Advanced (EA)
Advanced (A)
New ELD Standards have combined these into:
These labels are based on the CELDT score attained by the ELL.
The ELD standards specifications have close connections to the regular ELA frameworks and other content standards.
Assessment Approaches and ELLs
Assessment techniques may fall within two main categories:
formal assessment: tests, exams, standardized test
informal assessment: less rigid and more flexible as they adjust and conduct in contextual or situational events (portfolios, observations, running records, miscue analysis, learning logs, anecdotal records, actionable reflections).
An example is the SIOP model
Formative assessment: informal methods that are used early on to gain insight about the progress in attaining the learning outcomes.
Summative assessment: tend to be conducted a the end of the process to measure a cumulative performance normally using some kind of formal test.
Assessment Approaches and ELLs
Again, distinction must be made between what is assessed and what the student actually knows and is able to do.
Assessment is often confused with evaluation and testing.
Monson & Monson (1997) compiled a list of dichotomies:
teaching and learning vs. evaluation, measurement, and accountability
isolated disciplines vs. integrated knowledge
content knowledge vs. processes and habits of the mind
authenticity vs. stimulation
student selection vs teacher selection
interactive context vs. objects content
on-demand word samples vs. expanded process constructs
comparability vs. flexibility
process vs. product
quantitative vs. qualitative scoring
Assessment approaches should be workable, practical, relate to students' meaningful learning outcomes, valid, and reliable internally and externally.
Assessment may also lie in the degree of biases
Assessment Revisited
Assessment has largely been influenced by various paradigms and schools of thought.
It has been shaped by sociopolitical pressures in the school culture and political climate.
Assessment in educational settings involves making judgments about learning that takes place in classrooms in terms of given standards set by the school and other agencies.
The back to basics movement was one of the counter-reactions against the direction proposed which is a philosophical construct that puts faith in the notion of returning schools back to a simpler and kinder past.
Assessment Revisited Cont.
Teachers are held accountable for measuring the expected learning outcomes.
Alternative approaches to assessment views teachers' roles to be very critical.
Insight into the effectiveness of assessment should be incorporated in various guidelines.
Use of rubrics, standards, and overarching sound principles can all be used as alternative assessments.
Implications and Applications
Assessment and evaluation in second language classrooms can be affected by many complex variables
Curriculum planning and assessment should be based on the social, cultural, linguistic, and cognitive realities of learners
These can serve as guiding principles that should underlie the purpose and format of assessment and evaluation for ELLs
Performance expectations should be carefully integrated in schools
Both formal and informal techniques should be used
Suleiman, M.F. (2014). Special Needs and Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Learners.
An Interactive Approach to Second Language Learning and Teaching: Foundations and Applications.
(pp. 135-153). National Social Science.
Suleiman, M.F. (2014). Assessing and Evaluating English Language Learners.
An Interactive Approach to Second Language Learning and Teaching: Foundations and Applications.
(pp. 155-180). National Social Science.
Youtube A Brief History of Assessment.mp4
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