ESOL and Special Education
ESOL students suffer from both overreferral to Special Education Services and underreferral.
In some cases the lack of English Language Proficiency is mistaken for a learning disability or a speech/language problem. Referring the student to Special Education just because he or she does not speak English and has just arrived in the country would not be appropriate.
In other cases, when the student has been in the country for several years (or even born in the USA in the immigrant family), has been receiving ESOL services, but is still functioning significantly below grade level and exhibits learning behaviors that signal a problem, refusing to evaluate him/her for Special Education just because he/she is an ESOL student, is also inappropriate.
The decision of referring a child to Special Education needs to be based on many factors. Would the child be struggling with academic assignments in the native language? Has the child been exposed to formal schooling in the native country? Has he/she made any progress with ESOL instruction? These are just a few questions the Student Support Team should be discussing.
Here is the list of the pre-referral process guidelines compiled by an ESOL teacher at Digital Harbor High School. You can use it to create a student profile.
If you have doubts about the adequate placement of an ESOL student, we will discuss the matter and come up with appropriate solutions. You are not left alone to deal with it.