The U.S. Department of Education's Office for English Language Acquisition (OELA), in conjunction with the Council for Great City Schools, hosted a forum on English learners with special needs on May 18, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In this spring issue, we are pleased to offer articles on theory, research, and practice that address the characteristics of English learners with special needs (ELSN), effective intervention practices, and recommendations for professional development. Three papers focus on issues related to the identification process; two articles point to the need to distinguish between language impairment and typical language development; and two papers focus on professional development. Other articles consider students with interrupted formal schooling in the special education context; the beneficial impact of peer tutoring on tutor learning; and the needs of ELs with disabilities during transition to adulthood.
This issue takes as its theme the topic of English language learners with disabilities. We are pleased to bring you a number of articles highlighting promising practices from around the nation for this group of students. Although the authors of these articles are able to shine a light on successful strategies for ELLs with disabilities, as always, we caution our readers to remember that strategies which work with one group of students may not work with all groups. English language learners are a diverse group of students, and all educators should attend to the complexities of difference in the cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds of their students.
Charles Stansfield, Lauren Kennedy and Kristin Liu provide an overview of the principles of Universal Design and how it allows ELLs to access test content. The webinar includes brief discussion on the impact of Universal Design on testing for ELLs. The presenters from Second Language Testing, Inc. (SLTI) and the National Center on Educational Outcomes, demonstrate ways to implement these principles into test design and "what concepts" to take into consideration when using Universal Design in test development for ELLs.
Martha Thurlow, Manuel Barrera and Kristin Liu present a webinar connecting information from two federally-funded projects conducted by the National Center on Educational Outcomes in which teacher insights on current practice helped to inform new research. One project identified teaching strategies recommended by successful middle school teachers nationwide and a second project collected research data validating one of those strategies: mathematics "think aloud." These investigations were conducted to address the growing problem of supporting standards-based academic achievement of ELLs with disabilities who have not kept pace with their peers.
National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA)