Policy versus practice.
deGuehery, Alanah S.
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SubjectSpecial education teachers -- Training of; Special education -- Parent participation -- United States
The number of English language learners (ELLs) in American schools has increased dramatically (Hardin, Roach- Scott, & Peisner-Feinberg, 2007; Schon, Shaftel, & Markham, 2008; Sullivan, 2011; Woolley, 2008). That increase has caused many challenges for educators working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students (Hardin et al., 2007; Hardin et al. 2009; Woolley, 2010). The challenges educators face are due in part to cultural and linguistic differences, and are especially apparent in evaluating and determining special education eligibility, and providing educational services to ELLs (Hardin et al., 2007). Further, educators may not be adequately trained to work with ELLs, and the assessments and policies used for special education identification of ELLs may not be valid. As a result, there is a disproportionate representation of ELLs in special education (Artiles et al. 2005; Estrem & Zhang, 2010; Linn & Hemmer, 2011 ; MacSwan & Rolstad, 2006; Sullivan, 2011). The goal of this study was to find out what processes teachers use to identify students for special education, as aligned with special education law mandates. An online survey asking about identification procedures was used to collect information from teachers. Results indicate that the participants did have professional development training in multicultural teaching; however, they would benefit from more training on how to identify students for special education and how to identify certain disabilities. Participants also received valuable information from parents, and indicated the use of multiple strategies to help parents understand evaluation results, which is consistent with educational law.
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