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Evaluating Bilingual Students for Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with LD

ISBN: 978-1-78190-425-1, eISBN: 978-1-78190-426-8

Publication date: 2 January 2013


The evaluation of minority children for special education by law should be nondiscriminatory. To be in compliance with federal mandates such as the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and Public Law 94-142, minority children who are also English language learners (ELLs) should be assessed in their native language or other appropriate mode of communication. During assessment, the child's language skills in terms of both Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) and Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) should be considered. Assessments like the Woodcock-Munoz and Student Oral Language Observation Matrix (SOLOM) can be used to determine the child's dominant language and proficiency in both their first (L1) and second (L2) languages. Models such as that proposed by Olvera and Gomez-Cerrillo (2011) which includes procedures for formal and informal assessments, as well as data collection and observation, can help guide a school psychologist or diagnostician when assessing a bilingual child. One main goal of this type of evaluation is to distinguish academic delays caused by a learning disability from those caused by a lack of proficiency in English. Cautions with respect to the testing of ELLs are highlighted.


Duarte, B.A., Greybeck, B. and Simpson, C.G. (2013), "Evaluating Bilingual Students for Learning Disabilities", Bakken, J.P., Obiakor, F.E. and Rotatori, A.F. (Ed.) Learning Disabilities: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with LD (Advances in Special Education, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 129-139.



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