IDEA Series English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families National Council on Disability

 
IDEA Series English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families National Council on Disability
IDEA Series
English Learners and Students
  from Low-Income Families

National Council on Disability
       February 7, 2018
IDEA Series English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families National Council on Disability
National Council on Disability (NCD)
1331 F Street NW, Suite 850
Washington, DC 20004

(IDEA Series) English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families

National Council on Disability, February 7, 2018
Celebrating 30 years as an independent federal agency

This report is also available in alternative formats. Please visit the National Council on Disability
(NCD) website (www.ncd.gov) or contact NCD to request an alternative format using the following
information:

ncd@ncd.gov Email

202-272-2004 Voice

202-272-2022 Fax

The views contained in this report do not necessarily represent those of the Administration, as this and
all NCD documents are not subject to the A-19 Executive Branch review process.
IDEA Series English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families National Council on Disability
National Council on Disability
            An independent federal agency making recommendations to the President and Congress
            to enhance the quality of life for all Americans with disabilities and their families.

                                       Letter of Transmittal
February 7, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), I am pleased to submit this report titled
English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families. This report is part of a five-report
series on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that identifies the challenges
facing English learners with disabilities and their families as well as the unique needs facing
students with disabilities from low-income families and examines how they fare in the public
education system.

As you know, the right of students with disabilities to receive a free and appropriate public
education in the least restrictive environment is solidly rooted in the guarantee of equal
protection under the law granted to all citizens under the Constitution. In 2014, 9.3 percent of
all public school students were English learners and approximately 20 percent of children were
from families living in poverty. English learners with disabilities and students with disabilities
from low-income families may confront extraordinary challenges in their efforts to receive
a high-quality, inclusive education. Families may not be familiar with navigating the school
system. Parents may be unaware of their rights or feel unequipped to effectively advocate on
their child’s behalf, and may not be proficient in English themselves. To be eligible for services
under IDEA, a student must be identified as having a disability and needing special education
services. Identification as a child with a disability can provide students with access to needed
accommodations and services and rights under the law—poverty and language barriers may
impact that identification.

This report includes an examination of the identification, placement, and performance (where
available) of students with disabilities who are also English language learners and students
with disabilities who come from low-income families. It also looks at how supports, including
Parent Training and Information Centers, are serving these students and their families in getting
needed services and accessing their rights under the law, and provides recommendations for
improvement.

                      1331 F Street, NW    ■   Suite 850   ■   Washington, DC 20004
          202-272-2004 Voice   ■   202-272-2074 TTY    ■   202-272-2022 Fax   ■   www.ncd.gov

                                          English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families     1
IDEA Series English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families National Council on Disability
NCD stands ready to assist the Administration in ensuring the right to a free and appropriate public
     education for students with disabilities as set forth in IDEA.

     Respectfully,

     Clyde E. Terry
     Chairperson

     (The same letter of transmittal was sent to the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the
     U.S. House of Representatives.)

2   National Council on Disability
National Council on Disability Members and Staff

                          Members
                  Clyde E. Terry, Chairperson
             Benro T. Ogunyipe, Vice Chairperson
                         Billy W. Altom
                           Rabia Belt
                         James T. Brett
                          Bob Brown
                        Daniel M. Gade
                      Wendy S. Harbour
                         Neil Romano

                             Staff
                  Vacant, Executive Director
    Joan M. Durocher, General Counsel & Director of Policy
               Amy Nicholas, Attorney Advisor
              Amged Soliman, Attorney Advisor
              Ana Torres-Davis, Attorney Advisor
   Anne Sommers, Director of Legislative Affairs & Outreach
           Phoebe Ball, Legislative Affairs Specialist
     Lisa Grubb, Director of Operations and Administration
               Stacey S. Brown, Staff Assistant
         Keith Woods, Financial Management Analyst

                     English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families   3
4   National Council on Disability
Acknowledgments

NCD thanks Selene Almazan, Denise Marshall, and Melina Latona of the Council of Parent Attorneys
and Advocates; and Laura A. Schifter of the Harvard Graduate School of Education for the research
conducted in developing this report.

                                        English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families      5
6   National Council on Disability
Contents

Acknowledgments.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 5

Contents.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 7

Executive Summary .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 9

Acronym Glossary.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 11

Introduction .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 13
                         Research Methods. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 14
                         Qualitative Analysis. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 14
                         Policy Analysis and Literature Review. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 15
                         Quantitative Data. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 15
                         Limitations.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 15

Chapter 1: Rates of Identification and Placement.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 17
                         English Learners .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 17
                         Students from Low-Income Families. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 18

Chapter 2: Current Supports from the Department of Education .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 21
                         Parent Training.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 21
                         Guidance and Support for English Learners. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 22
                                  Model Demonstration Projects for Literacy.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 23
                                  Title III Supports and Inclusion in Assessment.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 23
                         Office for Civil Rights and Department of Justice .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 24

Chapter 3: Supports from Other Agencies .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 25
                         Protection and Advocacy Agencies .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 25
                         Independent Living.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 25

Chapter 4: Challenges in Addressing Needs of English Learners
and Students from Low-Income Families .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 27
                         Expectations .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 27
                         Disproportionality in Identification and Placement .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 27

                                                                                  English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families                                                                   7
Family Engagement and Education.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 31
                             Service Coordination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
                             Specific Challenges for English Learners .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 34

     Chapter 5: Findings.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 37

     Chapter 6: Recommendations to Congress, the Department of Education,
     and State Policymakers. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 39

     Endnotes. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 41

8   National Council on Disability
Executive Summary

S
        tudents with disabilities who are also         local administrators, state administrators, and
        English learners (ELs) and students with       researchers.
        disabilities who are from low-income              In this report, we identify key findings about
families face unique challenges in accessing a         students with disabilities who are also English
high-quality education. Given the challenges,          learners and students with disabilities from low-
these students experience worse outcomes and           income families. We found the following:
perform significantly below their peers on reading
                                                         ■■   Expectations: Too often, educators have
and mathematics assessments. To better meet
                                                              lower expectations for students with
the needs of these students and their families,
                                                              disabilities who are also English learners and
teachers, school administrators, and policymakers
                                                              students with disabilities from low-income
acknowledge needing additional support and
                                                              families.
research.
   To better understand the experiences of these
                                                         ■■   Disproportionality: English learners

students, NCD undertook research to study                     with disabilities are both over- and

English learners with disabilities and students               underrepresented in special education,

with disabilities from low-income families, in part,          and students with disabilities from low-

asking the following:                                         income families are disproportionately
                                                              identified for special education. Additionally,
  ■■   What are the challenges faced by English               both populations of students are
       learners with disabilities, students with              disproportionately placed in substantially
       disabilities from low-income families, and             separate classrooms.
       their families in receiving services under        ■■   Family engagement and family
       IDEA? How can schools, districts, and
                                                              education: Stakeholders identified
       states better meet their needs?
                                                              challenges effectively engaging families. In
   To address these questions, the NCD                        particular, they acknowledged challenges
research team conducted a mixed-methods                       effectively educating and supporting parents
study gathering relevant policy and qualitative               in understanding the language of special
and quantitative information. In particular, the              education and their rights under the law.
NCD research team convened forums to gather              ■■   Service coordination: Schools, districts,
parent and student perspectives and interviewed               and states face challenges in effectively

                                             English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families             9
coordinating services and supports for              families. States and districts should use
           English learners and students from low-             the data to support professional learning
           income families who are also eligible for           to improve opportunities for these
           special education services.                         students.
      ■■   Identification and exit for language-based     ■■   Support parent training and access to
           services: Educators, districts, and states          ensure parents understand their child’s
           face challenges in developing effective             needs, the special education process, and
           policies for determining entry and exit for         their rights under the law.
           language-based services for English learners
                                                          ■■   Incentivize collaboration across programs
           with disabilities.
                                                               to ensure that the services more effectively
       To address these findings, we recommend                 support the student rather than remain
     Congress, the Department of Education, and                segmented by program.
     state policymakers:
                                                          ■■   Support research and disseminate
      ■■   Collect, report, and analyze data on the            information on entrance and exit from
           identification, placement, and performance          language-based services to ensure district
           of English learners with disabilities and           and state policy effectively consider the
           students with disabilities from low-income          needs of English learners with disabilities.

10   National Council on Disability
Acronym Glossary

COPAA       Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
CRDC        Civil Rights Data Collection
CPRCs       Community Parent Resource Centers
DOJ         Department of Justice
ED          Department of Education
EL          English learner
ESEA        Elementary and Secondary Education Act
ESSA        Every Student Succeeds Act
IDEA        Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEP         Individualized Education Program
LRE         least restrictive environment
MTSS        multitiered system of supports
NAEP        National Assessment of Educational Progress
NCD         National Council on Disability
NCEO        National Center on Education Outcomes
NLTS-2012   National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012
OCR         Office for Civil Rights
OSEP        Office of Special Education Programs
OSERS       Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services
P&As        Protection and Advocacy agencies
PTI         Parent Training and Information Centers
TAC         technical assistances centers

                                      English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families   11
English learners (ELs) and students with
                                      disabilities from low-income families enter
                                      school with additional challenges to learning
                                      that are not directly associated with their
                                      disability. As a result, ELs and students
                                      from low-income families may confront
                                      extraordinary challenges in their efforts to
                                      receive a high-quality, inclusive education.

12   National Council on Disability
                         Disability
Introduction

F
      or the past 50 years, the federal role in        than students with disabilities who are not ELs,
      education has focused on increasing              and students with disabilities from low-income
      equity by providing additional funds             families perform worse than students with
targeted toward specific populations of students.      disabilities from non-low-income families.4
Specifically, it has provided states and districts        Students with disabilities who are also
support for students with disabilities through the     ELs and students with disabilities from low-
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),1   income families enter school with additional
support for students from low-income families          challenges to learning that are not directly
through Title I of the Elementary and Secondary        associated with their disability.5 As a result, ELs
Education Act (ESEA),2 and support for English         and students from low-income families may
learners (ELs) through Title III of ESEA.3 In          confront extraordinary challenges in their efforts
developing these programs, the Federal                 to receive a high-quality, inclusive education.
Government has recognized the additional               For instance, families may not be familiar with
challenges districts may face in meeting the           navigating the school system, and parents
needs of these students and therefore provides         may be unaware of their rights or may feel
the funding to cover some of the excess                unequipped to effectively advocate on their
cost associated with educating students with           child’s behalf.6
additional needs.                                         Policymakers need additional information
   Despite these efforts, gaps in educational          about the experiences of ELs and students
performance exist between students with                from low-income families to ensure that IDEA
disabilities and students without disabilities,        is effectively meeting the needs of these
between ELs and students who are not English           underserved student populations. The National
learners, and students from low-income families        Council on Disability (NCD) sought to gather
and students from non-low-income families.             that information. In this report, we address the
Additionally, gaps are largest for students            following questions:
who may be eligible to receive services from
                                                         ■■   What data is available on the identification,
multiple programs. For instance, in examining
                                                              placement, and performance of ELs with
performance on the National Assessment of
                                                              disabilities and students with disabilities
Educational Progress (NAEP), students with
                                                              from low-income families?
disabilities who are also ELs perform worse

                                          English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families              13
and Protection and Advocacy Organizations

     Research Questions Addressed                                   engage with families of ELs or low-income

     in Report                                                      students?

     ■■   What data is available on the identification,        Research Methods
          placement, and performance of ELs with               To address these questions, the NCD research
          disabilities and students with disabilities          team conducted a mixed-methods study
          from low-income families?                            gathering stakeholder perspectives, as well as
     ■■   What are the challenges faced by ELs with            policy and quantitative information. With this
          disabilities, students with disabilities from        information, we describe experiences for these
          low-income families, and their families in           populations of students; identify any potential
          receiving services under IDEA? How can               gaps in services, policy, and research; and make
          schools, districts, and states better meet           recommendations to improve opportunities for
          their needs?                                         ELs with disabilities and students with disabilities
                                                               from low-income families.
     ■■   How does the Department of Education
          support states in addressing the needs               Qualitative Analysis
          of ELs with disabilities and students from
                                                               To gather stakeholder perspectives, the NCD
          low-income families with disabilities?
                                                               research team conducted interviews and held
     ■■   How do Parent Training and Information               four regional forums and one national forum.
          Centers, Centers for Independent Living,             Specifically, we conducted 20 semistructured
          and Protection and Advocacy Organizations            interviews with Department of Education
          engage with families of ELs or low-income            officials, state and local administrators,
          students?                                            researchers, representatives from disability
                                                               rights organizations, and parent organizations
                                                               to determine current challenges and supports
                                                               for ELs with disabilities and students from low-
          ■■   What are the challenges faced by ELs with
                                                               income families with disabilities.
               disabilities, students with disabilities from
                                                                  In the second phase of research, we gathered
               low-income families, and their families in
                                                               perspectives from parents and students through
               receiving services under IDEA? How can
                                                               four regional focus groups in California, Illinois,
               schools, districts, and states better meet
                                                               Texas, and Virginia. NCD recruited participants
               their needs?
                                                               through the Council of Parent Attorneys and
          ■■   How does the Department of Education            Advocates (COPAA)’s member network,
               support states in addressing the needs of       local parent networks, and state and national
               ELs with disabilities and students from low-    partners in the forum locations. In total,
               income families with disabilities?              72 people participated in the regional forums.
          ■■   How do Parent Training and Information          Only 30 percent of regional forum participants
               Centers, Centers for Independent Living,        were COPAA members and 70 percent were

14    National Council on Disability
non-COPAA members. Of the 72 participants in           Department of Education on indicators related
the regional forum, 38 percent were parents of         to IDEA implementation. The Department of
students of color.                                     Education compiles this data and releases the
   The third phase of data collection occurred         data in an annual Report to Congress.8 We also
during an online forum at COPAA’s national             use data from the National Center of Education
conference. In total, 58 people participated in        Statistics, which annually compiles data,
the forum. Twenty-three percent were people            including demographic and enrollment data, on all
of color. An additional 23 people responded            public schools in the country.9
through an email address.7 In addition to the             Additionally, we reviewed available data
72 participants at the forum, there was a total        from the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC).
of 81 people who responded in the focus                The CRDC,10 a survey conducted every few
groups, the national forum, and the email              years by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the
responses.                                             Department of Education, contains additional
   In all settings, NCD used a semistructured          information about state, district, and school-level
question protocol to gain perspectives about           enrollment; college and career-readiness; and
parent and child experiences with IDEA. Data           discipline, including bullying and harassment
was recorded and transcribed to identify themes        and restraint and seclusion. Frequently, this data
among the experiences (see appendix for                is disaggregated and can be cross-tabulated
protocols).                                            by disability and EL status, but they do not
                                                       disaggregate by economic disadvantage.
Policy Analysis and Literature                            Finally, we reviewed performance data from
Review                                                 NAEP for students with disabilities, ELs, and low-
To understand the policy context, we reviewed          income students in English and math.11
Department of Education regulations and
guidance to determine the extent it currently          Limitations
provides supports to states to meet the needs of       In this study, NCD recruited participants
ELs with disabilities and students with disabilities   through COPAA’s member network, local parent
from low-income families. We have also reviewed        networks, and state and national partners in the
research on current challenges and best practices      forum locations. Additionally, we purposefully
that have been identified to better meet the need      selected interview participants based on location
of these students and their families.                  and position. Therefore, the qualitative data
                                                       identified in the report should not be viewed
Quantitative Data                                      as generalizable, but rather as perspectives of
We gathered available data from the IDEA annual        individuals within those positions. The qualitative
performance reports related to the identification,     data offers individual first-person perspectives
placement, and performance for these students.         to complement the quantitative aspects of
As required by IDEA, states annually report to the     this report.

                                         English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families              15
16   National Council on Disability
Chapter 1: Rates of Identification and Placement

T
       o be eligible for services under IDEA,         across states, with a low of 0.7 percent in West
       a student must be identified as having         Virginia to a high of 22.7 percent in California. A
       one of 13 disabilities and need special        majority of these students (76.5%) speak Spanish
education services.12 Once identified, an             as their home language.17
Individualized Education Program (IEP) team              In 2015–2016, approximately 10 percent
convenes to determine the specific special            of the 6 million students eligible for special
education and related services the child needs        education services across the country were
to make progress in the general education             also identified as ELs.18 This identification rate
curriculum.13 IDEA requires that IEP teams            is generally proportionate to the identification
ensure students with disabilities are educated        rate for ELs in the overall student population.
in the “least restrictive                                                       California, however,
environment” (LRE)                                                              showed disproportionate
                             In 2015–2016, approximately
where they are                                                                  identification, with ELs
educated with students
                             10 percent of the 6 million students               representing 31 percent
without disabilities         eligible for special education                     of all students with
to the “maximum              services across the country were                   disabilities but only about
extent appropriate.”14       also identified as ELs.                            23 percent in the overall
Additionally, IDEA                                                              population. Other states
requires states report special education              with the highest numbers of EL populations
identification and placement information by race,     (Texas,19 New York, and Florida) show more
ethnicity, language proficiency status, gender,       proportionate identification. According to the
and disability category.15                            National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS-
                                                      2012), students with specific learning disability
English Learners                                      (12%) and hearing impairment (13%) have
Nationally, in 2013–2014, 9.3 percent of public       higher proportions of students also identified as
school students (4.5 million students) were           EL, whereas students with autism (4%), deaf-
identified as ELs receiving English language          blindness (4%), emotional disability (5%), and
services.16 The percent of students receiving         multiple disabilities (3%) have lower proportions
English language services varies considerably         of students also identified as ELs.20

                                           English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families             17
Nationally, ELs with disabilities have a higher    in Mississippi. Student eligibility for free and
     rate of placement in substantially separate           reduced-priced lunch is frequently used as a
     classrooms (17.0%) than do all students with          proxy for income status, with about 50 percent
     disabilities (13.5%).21 The rates of placement in     of public school students eligible for free or
     substantially separate classrooms for ELs varied      reduced-price lunch.26 IDEA does not require
     in the states with high numbers of ELs from           states to report identification and placement
     9 percent in Texas to 23.8 percent in California.22   data by family income status or eligibility for
     In fact, in both Texas and Florida placement in       free or reduced-price lunch. Therefore, national
     substantially separate classrooms for ELs with        IDEA data on identification and placement
     disabilities was lower than the substantially         in special education for students from low-
     separate placement rate for all students with         income families is not available. Under Title I,
     disabilities.                                         states do report the number of eligible Title I
        ELs with disabilities perform worse                students who are also children with disabilities.
     academically and are more likely to be                Nationally, approximately 13.6 percent of
     disciplined in school                                                          students served in
     than are ELs without                                                           schoolwide programs
                                   Nationally, approximately
     disabilities. For instance,                                                    and targeted assistance
     on the NAEP, ELs with         13.6 percent of students served in               programs under Title I
     disabilities perform          schoolwide programs and targeted                 are also children with
     26 points below ELs           assistance programs under Title I                disabilities (3.4 million
     without disabilities          are also children with disabilities              children).27
     on the eighth-grade                                                                Past studies have
                                   (3.4 million children).
     reading assessment                                                             examined associations
     and 28 points below on                                                         between poverty and
     the eighth-grade mathematics assessment.23            disability using community factors, rather than
     Additionally, according to the CRDC, even             student-level information, to represent poverty.28
     though ELs with disabilities make up                  These studies are limited though because they
     approximately 11.9 percent of the population          were unable to examine the relationship between
     of ELs, ELs with disabilities represent 21.5          poverty and income at the student level. A few
     percent of the ELs receiving one or more out-         recent studies have examined the relationship
     of-school suspension.24                               between income level and poverty at the student
                                                           level and found that students from low-income
     Students from Low-Income Families                     families were considerably more likely to be
     Nationally, in 2013–2014, 20 percent of 5             identified for special education.29 According
     through 17-year-olds (10.7 million students)          to the NLTS-2012, 58 percent of students
     were identified as living in poverty.25 The           eligible for special education were from low-
     percentage of students living in poverty also         income households compared to 46 percent for
     varies considerably across states, with a low of      students without IEPs.30 Students identified with
     12 percent in Maryland to a high of 29 percent        intellectual disability (71%), emotional disability

18   National Council on Disability
(62%), and specific learning disability (61%) were     and placement of low-income students in
most likely to live in low-income households,          special education as evidenced by differences by
whereas students identified with autism (37%)          community factors and differences in performance
were least likely.31 Data on the placement of          levels.35 Additional information is needed to
students from low-income families eligible for         better understand the rates of identification and
special education is also limited. In a study in       placement for low-income students.
Massachusetts,32 the researchers found that               Students with disabilities from low-income
the rate of placement in                                                        households perform
substantially separate        [S]tudents with disabilities from                 worse academically than
classrooms for low-                                                             low-income students
                              low-income households perform
income students was                                                             without disabilities.
                              39 points below on the eighth-
more than double                                                                For instance, on the
the placement in              grade reading assessment and 37                   NAEP, students with
substantially separate        points below on the eighth-grade                  disabilities from low-
classrooms for non-low-       mathematics assessment than                       income households
income students.                                                                perform 39 points below
                              do low-income students without
   Many of the past                                                             on the eighth-grade
                              disabilities.
studies that have                                                               reading assessment and
examined the relationship                                                       37 points below on the
between poverty and disability have attributed the     eighth-grade mathematics assessment than do
correlation to increased prevalence of disability      low-income students without disabilities.36 In
among people living in poverty.33 Children living in   looking at discipline rates, the CDRC and IDEA
poverty more often experience factors relating to      data collections do not disaggregate discipline
disability such as low birthweight and increased       data by income status, and therefore no national
exposure to lead.34 However, despite the increased     estimates are available for low-income students
risk, there may also be elements of systemic bias      with disabilities.
factoring into determinations about identification

                                          English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families           19
20   National Council on Disability
Chapter 2: Current Supports from the Department
of Education

T
       he Department of Education (ED) provides        parents of children with disabilities, including
       some supports through guidance and              low income parents, parents of limited
       grants for students with disabilities who       English proficient children, and parents with
are also ELs and students with disabilities from       disabilities, have the training and information
low-income families. Specifically, IDEA authorizes     the parents need to enable the parents to
funding for Community Parent Resource Centers          participate effectively in helping their children
and National Activities to, in part, address the       with disabilities.”39 In 2016, ED, through OSEP,
needs of these students and their families. Under      awarded $2.3 million in grants to 23 CPRCs
Title III of ESEA, ED has offered guidance and has     across 17 states.
developed a tool-kit for meeting the needs of ELs         Though not specifically targeted to serve
with disabilities. As for                                                        these populations, PTIs
support and coordination                                                         are located in every
with Title I of ESEA, ED      Under Title III of ESEA, ED has                    state and also provide
officials from the Office     offered guidance and has developed                 training and supports
of Special Education          a tool-kit for meeting the needs of                to parents and families
Programs (OSEP)                                                                  and serve ELs and
                              ELs with disabilities.
acknowledge being                                                                low-income families.
involved with the regulations, guidance, and           In total, parent centers received $27.4 million
state planning for the reauthorized ESEA, known        in FY16 to fund 65 PTIs, 30 CPRCs, and 9
as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), but          technical assistances centers (TAC).40 Taken
did not identify any additional initiatives targeted   together, the centers provide information and
for students with disabilities from low-income         training to over 1 million parents, guardians,
families.                                              educators, and other professionals annually. Six
                                                       of the TACs are regional, and three are national
Parent Training                                        centers, two of which provide support toward
Authorized under Part D of the IDEA, Community         specific populations (military families and Native
Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs)37 and Parent           American children).
Training and Information Centers (PTI)38 provide          CRPC and PTI grants are awarded to
training and support to families. CPRCs are            nonprofit organizations with missions to serve
intended to “help ensure that underserved              children from birth through age 26 and across

                                          English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families            21
all disability categories. They provide training to   of English Language Acquisition to address areas
     parents in supporting the educational needs of        of support for ELs with disabilities on several
     children with disabilities as well as training on     issues, including identification and assessment.
     parents’ rights under the law. One PTI/CPRC              In January 2015, ED, along with the
     director acknowledged that they have needed           Department of Justice (DOJ), issued a Dear
     to expand beyond traditional outreach with            Colleague letter outlining the requirements of
     parents because they are seeing more diversity        civil rights laws to ensure that ELs, including
     across support structures, with grandparents          ELs with disabilities, do not face discrimination
     as legal guardians, more youth in foster care,        in school.44 Specifically, the guidance clarifies
     youth in the juvenile justice system, and             that to guarantee ELs are provided with a free
     children who are homeless or at risk of being         appropriate public education:
     homeless. They have expanded their work to
     foster liaisons and train social workers and            1. Evaluations must be conducted in the

     other professionals within the system regarding            appropriate language based on the student’s

     disability, stigmatization, and rights under               needs and language skills,

     the law. The director said that these are the
                                                                                      2. Any determination
     “families who are the
                                                                                         of special education
     most marginalized and          A PTI director also commented on
                                                                                         eligibility is based on
     ignored” and that PTIs         the underfunding, noting, “our grant                 factors related to the
     need to ensure they are
                                    funds 2.5 full-time employees, but                   student’s abilities rather
     reaching those families.41
                                    we serve 70,000 children with IEPs.”                 than language skills,
        Dr. Thomas Hehir, a
     researcher and former director of OSEP, added           3. Language services and special education
     that centers for parent training “do great work,           services are provided simultaneously for the
     but are underfunded,” and to be most effective             student, and
     in serving the intended populations, the centers
                                                             4. Any IEP also considers the student’s
     have had to raise considerable amounts of money
                                                                language-related needs.
     outside the federal support.42 In fact, funding
     for PTIs was cut in 2013 by about $1.5 million           To support ELs, ED has developed a
     and has not been restored. A PTI director also        corresponding tool-kit for practitioners that
     commented on the underfunding, noting, “our           includes a chapter outlining supports for ELs
     grant funds 2.5 full-time employees, but we           with disabilities.45 The tool-kit offers policy
     serve 70,000 children with IEPs.”43                   recommendations for states and districts,
                                                           including the suggestion that local districts submit
     Guidance and Support for English                      in their special education plans to the states,
     Learners                                              their policies related to the referral, identification,
     ED officials identified cross-office initiatives      assessment, and service delivery for ELs with
     between the Office of Special Education and           disabilities. The tool-kit also includes a matrix for
     Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) and the Office        helping differentiate language differences and

22   National Council on Disability
disabilities in identification, a checklist support     role of the IEP team in assessment decisions,
for developing an IEP for an EL with a disability,      accommodations and alternate assessments, and
instructions on using the CRDC to find data             decisions about exiting from EL status.
on ELs with disabilities, and considerations for           Passed in 2015, Title III under ESSA included
accommodations for ELs with disabilities.               critical new provisions addressing the needs of
                                                        ELs with disabilities. Specifically, Title III now
Model Demonstration Projects                            requires reporting on the number and percentage
for Literacy                                            of ELs making progress toward English proficiency
OSEP is also currently funding model                    by disability status.48 In September 2016, ED
demonstration projects to address the needs of          issued guidance on Title III under ESSA, which
ELs with disabilities. The model demonstration          included a section devoted to ELs with disabilities.
projects have focused on addressing literacy            The guidance describes the professional
needs for ELs with disabilities. Specifically,          knowledge teachers of ELs should have:
the 2016 grant competition funded a project to
                                                           Instruction for English learners with
“(a) improve literacy outcomes for [ELs with
                                                           disabilities should take into account their
disabilities] in grades three through five, within
                                                                                   specific special
a multitiered system
                                                                                   education and related
of supports (MTSS)             OSEP is also currently funding model                services needs, as
framework; (b) use             demonstration projects to address                   well as their language
culturally responsive
                               the needs of ELs with disabilities.                 needs. Teachers
principles; and (c) be
                                                                                   should have an
implemented by educators and sustained in
                                                           understanding of the second language
general and special education settings.”46 Three
                                                           acquisition process, and how this might
projects at Portland State University, American
                                                           be influenced by the child’s individual
Institutes of Research, and the University of
                                                           development, knowledge of EL effective
Texas Austin received funding.
                                                           instructional practices and, if relevant, the
                                                           child’s disability.49
Title III Supports and Inclusion
in Assessment                                              Additionally, to heighten the attention on
Recognizing the challenges associated with              language proficiency, ESSA included language
appropriate inclusion of ELs with disabilities in       proficiency as a required indicator in the state
assessments, ED has provided supports to states         accountability system under Title I.50
and districts. In 2014, OSERS issued a questions           The Title I assessment regulations go
and answers document on the inclusion of ELs            further to support the assessment of ELs
with disabilities on English language proficiency       who are also students with disabilities.
assessments. This guidance remains in
               47
                                                        The regulations clarify that when assessing
effect through the 2016–2017 school year as             language proficiency, if a student’s disability
states transition to new plans under ESSA.              precludes them from accessing an assessment
This guidance includes information about the            in one domain (listening, speaking, reading

                                            English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families             23
and writing) educators must assess students’            also provides protections to parents. Schools
     language proficiency using the other domains.51         have a legal duty to ensure both parents and
     Additionally, when making determinations for            students are able to access programs, services,
     participation on the Alternate Assessment aligned       and information in their primary language. Title VI
     with Alternate Achievement Standards, decisions         of the Civil Rights Act of 196456 prohibits federally
     cannot be made based on the student’s disability        assisted programs to deny the benefits for or
     or EL status.52 Finally, any educators who work         subject individuals to discrimination on the basis
     with students with disabilities, including teachers     of national origin, color, or race. Discrimination
     of ELs, must receive training on administering          based on language is considered discrimination
     assessments and the use of accommodations.53            based on national origin.57 Therefore, parents
        To better understand assessment policies             cannot be discriminated against because their
     and practices for students with disabilities,           native language is not English.
     ELs, and ELs with disabilities, the Office of              In 2010, DOJ and OCR entered into a
     Special Education Programs funds the National           settlement with Boston Public Schools after an
     Center on Education Outcomes (NCEO) at the              investigation found the district was not providing
     University of Minnesota.54 NCEO collects and            appropriate services for ELs. The original
     analyzes data on assessments, accommodations,           settlement included a stipulation ensuring
     and accountabilities, and they disseminate              that EL students who are also students with
     information on evidence-based practices to assist       disabilities are appropriately referred, evaluated,
     states and districts in implementing inclusive          and served for both language services and
     assessment systems.                                     special education services.58 In another case, in
                                                             January 2015, OCR completed an investigation
     Office for Civil Rights and                             of Jersey City Public schools, finding
     Department of Justice                                   noncompliance with Title VI. In the resolution
     In addition to OSEP monitoring compliance with          letter, OCR noted, in particular, “school districts
     IDEA, OCR at ED and the Civil Rights Division           may not maintain ‘no dual services’ policies
     of the DOJ have the authority to investigate            or practices for EL students with disabilities.
     complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act       If an EL student with disabilities needs both
     of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunity           alternative language services and special
     Act to ensure ELs have equal opportunity to             education services, the student should be given
     education.55 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964   both types of services.”59

24   National Council on Disability
Chapter 3: Supports from Other Agencies

Protection and Advocacy Agencies                     information in a language they can understand
                                                     and ensuring students are protected from
Protection and Advocacy agencies (P&As),60
                                                     inappropriate disciplinary measures, including
authorized through various federal statutes,
                                                     seclusion and restraint.
not including IDEA,61 are intended to provide
legal representation and advocacy services for
people with disabilities. The agencies represent     Independent Living
and advocate for people with disabilities            Authorized under Title VII of the Rehabilitation
across a variety of areas, including health care,    Act, Centers for Independent Living are
housing, employment, and education. They are         intended to provide services to promote
intended to provide legal support and advocacy       independent living among people with
for unserved and underserved populations,            disabilities. Importantly, they are consumer-
including individuals from low-income families       controlled organizations and, among other
and monolingual non-English-speaking families.       supports, provide self-advocacy training and
In education, some of the support many involve       peer mentoring. In 2014, Congress reauthorized
requesting information from the school, filing       the program through the Workforce Innovation
state complaints, filing federal complaints, and     and Opportunity Act .62 In the reauthorization,
litigation. In speaking with representatives from    Congress added a focus on youth transition to
P&As, many of their concerns for ELs and low-        the core services of the program for individuals
income families involved ensuring parents have       with significant disabilities.63

                                         English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families         25
26   National Council on Disability
Chapter 4: Challenges in Addressing Needs of English
Learners and Students from Low-Income Families

S
       takeholders identified several challenges      however stakeholders identified low expectations
       in effectively meeting the needs of            as a problem plaguing ELs with disabilities
       ELs with disabilities and students with        and students with disabilities from low-income
disabilities from low-income families. Importantly,   families. One local administrator discussed the
stakeholders noted that these populations are         challenges around the mind-set, stating, “We
overlapping. One local administrator stated it is     have a problem of lowered expectations if you
“hard to separate” the two because many of the        belong to one or more of these subgroups. How
students are the same. For instance, according        we can move the mindset piece so that teachers
to an administrator in                                                          in front of students
California, 70 percent                                                          believe that they can
of their students with         [A]ccording to an administrator in               achieve?”64 Another state
disabilities are also          California, 70 percent of their students         administrator recognized
identified in one or           with disabilities are also identified            the need to support
more of the following                                                           cultural competency to
                               in one or more of the following
subgroups: students in                                                          address the “implicit bias
poverty, ELs, or students
                               subgroups: students in poverty, ELs,             of educators towards
in foster care. With this      or students in foster care.                      students who are poor
overlap, students and                                                           and students of color.”
families across the different subgroups face          The administrator continued to acknowledge that
many common challenges.                               “changing attitudes and practices is a daunting
   In this section, we describe the common            task.”65
challenges related to expectations,
disproportionality, service coordination, and         Disproportionality in Identification
family engagement and then highlight some             and Placement
specific challenges for ELs.                          Previous researchers have acknowledged
                                                      a “paradox” related to special education
Expectations                                          identification.66 Identification for special
Educators and policymakers alike have                 education can provide students with access to
acknowledged the importance of having high            interventions, accommodations, and rights under
expectations for students with disabilities,          the law. Simultaneously, though, identification

                                         English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families              27
The IDEA statute and regulations include
     Special Education Paradox                             important provisions on evaluation to help ensure
                                                           students are appropriately identified for special
     Identification for special education                  education services. The local school district
     can provide students with access to                   must use a “variety of assessment tools and
     interventions, accommodations, and rights             strategies,” evaluation materials should not be
     under the law. Simultaneously, though,                “discriminatory on a racial or cultural basis,”
     identification can result in segregation from         and assessments are “administered in the
     general education, lower expectations, and            language and form most likely to yield accurate
     stigmatization                                        information.”73 Of importance, the statute
                                                           includes an exclusionary clause prohibiting
                                                           determination of eligibility if the determining
                                                           factor is “lack of appropriate instruction in
     can result in segregation from general education,     reading,” “lack of appropriate instruction in
     lower expectations, and stigmatization.67 Given       math,” or “limited English proficiency.”74 The
     this paradox, policymakers have tried to ensure       statutory definition of specific learning disability
     students are identified for special education         also excludes learning issues primarily related
     appropriately. After years                                                      to “environment,
     of research documenting                                                         cultural, or economic
                                   One special education director
     disproportionality for                                                          disadvantage.”75
     students of color in          mentioned that, in her district, ELs                 Despite these
     special education,68 IDEA     “who need interventions get sent to               statutory provisions,
     2004 included provisions      special education.”                               stakeholders
     requiring that states                                                           identified challenges
     address significant disproportionality by race and    in differentiating language needs, impacts
     ethnicity for identification and placement.69         of poverty, and disability needs. One local
         Policies to address disproportionality in         administrator noted, “There is a challenge
     identification and placement for students             understanding language need versus disability
     with disabilities are limited to focus on             need. With the overall pervasiveness of testing,
     disproportionality by race and ethnicity.             schools don’t have the time to wait for language
     However, previous research has acknowledged           to occur.”76 In examining the exclusionary clause
     concerns with both underidentification and            as it relates to economic disadvantage, Dr. James
     overidentification of ELs,70 and research from        Ryan has argued that given the impacts of
     Massachusetts identified concerns with                poverty on the brain, trying to force differentiating
     overidentification of students from low-income        between disability and economic disadvantage is
     families in special education.71 One special          problematic when students need the additional
     education director mentioned that, in her district,   services and supports.77
     ELs “who need interventions get sent to special          Researchers have also noted that referral
     education.”72                                         procedures for ELs vary from district to district.78

28    National Council on Disability
Some districts apply the same referral policies       conversations and supports that are now
regardless of EL status, while others include         happening or are in the works.”83 Yet, a state
additional policies to guide the evaluation           administrator still has concerns, noting that
process. Even with the statute suggesting that        disproportionality for these populations is an
children should be evaluated in an appropriate        issue “we need to address,” and “teachers need
language, one parent noted her school only            professional development on what to do.”84
evaluates students in                                                             Disproportionality is
the English language                                                           not exclusively related to
                              [G]iven the impacts of poverty
regardless of the child’s                                                      issues of identification,
language proficiency. In
                              on the brain, trying to force                    but also placement in
her school, if the child is   differentiating between disability               substantially separate
not proficient in English,    and economic disadvantage is                     settings and discipline.
he or she could not be        problematic when students need the One stakeholder noted
evaluated effectively                                                          that some of the youth
                              additional services and supports.
for special education.79                                                       they work with who had
A representative from a P&A also raised this          been in substantially separate placements say
challenge, describing a deaf student who had          they “survived special education” or they were
grown up reading his mother’s lips. Despite           a “victim of special education.” She added that
this, the district refused to evaluate him in his     part of the problem is that the law “perpetuates
family’s native language claiming that he had         segregation” and “the next reauthorization of
“no dominant language.” She added that some           IDEA [should address the] embedded separation
districts in her state are                                                     between general
requiring students to         “Some of the things we know about                education and special
have lived in the state                                                        education.”85
                              low-income students is that they
for a specified amount of                                                         Dr. Thomas Hehir
time before permitting
                              are more apt to be segregated than               raised concerns about
referrals to special          non-low-income students, and those               the overrepresentation
education.80                  placements are associated with                   of low-income students
   To address these           poorer outcomes.”                                in substantially separate
challenges, researchers                                                        placements: “Some
                                                   —Dr. Thomas Hehir
and practitioners have                                                         of the things we
focused on developing culturally responsive           know about low-income students is that they
evaluation practices81 and ensuring that MTSS         are more apt to be segregated than non-low-
appropriately include all students.82 One             income students, and those placements are
representative for the state chiefs highlighted       associated with poorer outcomes.” He also
this work, noting he is “encouraged by more           noted that parents with fewer financial resources
conversation occurring around [supports for ELs       are considerably less likely to exercise their
with disabilities]. I hear about it everywhere—       due process rights under the law should they
organizations, funded centers, more good              disagree with a placement decision, and when

                                          English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families            29
the cost of the assessment and preparing for
                                                             the hearing, and therefore they do not have due
                                                             process rights.”88
                                                                In fact, representation is not limited to
                                                             families with incomes above the poverty line.
                                                             There are a number of special education attorney
                                                             practitioners who represent families using
                                                             the fee-shifting provisions of the IDEA.89 Any
                                                             civil rights fee-shifting provision is designed to
                                                             encourage litigants to protect their civil rights.
                                                             The courts have long recognized “. . . its more
                                                             specific purpose was to enable potential plaintiffs
                                                             to obtain assistance of competent counsel in
                                                             vindicating their rights.”90 There is training for
                                                             attorneys who desire to represent families using
                                                             the fee-shifting provisions.91
                                                                A few states and districts have tried to
                                                             address issues related to disproportionality
                                                             among ELs or students from low-income families.
                                                             For instance in 2016, California passed legislation
                                                             requiring the state’s Department of Education
                                                             develop a manual “on identifying, assessing,
                                                             supporting, and reclassifying ELs who may
                                                             qualify for special education services and pupils
     they do, exercising their rights are not as effective   with disabilities who may be classified as ELs.”92
     without representation. He added, “Even if a few        The manual was due to the California legislature
     students can get access it has impact on school         on June 30, 2017.
     districts. We need representation for low-income           To address disproportionality among students
     students on issues of placement. P&As could be          from low-income families, the Massachusetts
     funded to represent low-income parents seeking          Department of Elementary and Secondary
     more inclusive placements.”86 One parent also           Education started the Low-Income Education
     acknowledged barriers to families with fewer            Access Project.93 Through the program, the
     means in accessing their rights under IDEA,             state is working collaboratively with local school
     noting, “The game is set up to benefit people           districts to assess and address disproportionality
     who have more.”87 Another parent stated, “I’m           among low-income students. The state supports
     real big on seeing there being two special eds—         more tailored professional development for
     one special ed system for students who have             districts that, based on their data, demonstrate
     money, and one for those who do not. A family           higher rates of disproportionality for low-income
     who earns below the poverty income cannot               students in identification and placement and may
     possibly challenge a district program, considering      require districts to use some of their allowable

30   National Council on Disability
15 percent of IDEA funds for coordinated early        understand what is intellectual disability.”97
intervening services for this purpose.94 They also    Another parent described understanding and
offer universal professional development through      engaging with IDEA is “twice as difficult” for
online support and a train-the-trainers model to      non-English-speaking parents because of the
consider the impacts of poverty on learning. A        barrier to getting information in a language
key goal of the program, according to one state       parents understand.98
administrator, is to “make the general education         A PTI director noted challenges that non-
settings more accommodating and supportive            English-speaking families face: “Monolingual
of the student . . . to make sure we don’t            families have the challenge of not knowing the
misidentify students as                                                         law, and school districts
having disabilities” and to                                                     don’t take the time.
                              Language, and in particular the
“think about the student                                                        Nobody is explaining
                              language of special education, can
as a whole, including                                                           what IDEA means—
their families” to address    represent a significant barrier to                mostly not getting
any barriers to learning.95   family engagement.                                relevant documents
The state is currently in                                                       translated.” She added
its first years of implementation and is collecting   that many parents “are learning English and
data to examine the program’s results in              getting by in their jobs but the special education
improving opportunities for low-income students.      language is different with the terms, acronyms.
                                                      Their English is not at that level yet.”99 Several
Family Engagement and Education                       advocates representing non-English-speaking
Several stakeholders noted concerns about             families also noted that even if an interpreter is
schools being able to effectively engage              present, the “parent receives the interpretation
families of ELs and low-income families.              from the school secretary.” The interpreter may
A local administrator                                                           not understand the IDEA
commented, “We need                                                             jargon and therefore
                              The interpreter may not understand
additional supports for                                                         cannot effectively relay
                              the IDEA jargon and therefore
schools and more training                                                       the information to
at the school level on        cannot effectively relay the                      parents.100
how to appropriately          information to parents.                              Representatives
engage families. This is a                                                      from P&As added that
huge thing.”96                                        even though there are some requirements
   Language, and in particular the language of        that information be translated for parents, the
special education, can represent a significant        implementation of these provisions is ineffective
barrier to family engagement. One parent              and variable. For instance, they noted instances
described her experience with her son and his         where entire IEPs were not translated but merely
school, “We just believe everything that they         the headers, translations of documentations
[the educators] say,” adding “for somebody that       were only in audio format, and documents
comes from a different country . . . 15 years         related to evaluations were not translated at all.
ago, 16 years ago, it was quite difficult to even     One attorney noted, even in a school district

                                         English Learners and Students from Low-Income Families             31
You can also read
Next slide ... Cancel