Special Education

More English-language Learners, More ELLs with Disabilities?

By Nirvi Shah — August 29, 2011 1 min read
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By 2030, English-language learners are expected to make up 40 percent of America’s school population. With some states experiencing a 700 percent growth in the number of English learners in their schools between 1994 and 2005, the department expects the number of English Learners with disabilities to increase, too.

So how should schools work with a potentially growing number of students learning English who also have a disability? (Shuttling too many students learning English off to be evaluated for disabilities has been a longstanding problem, although one state had the opposite issue.)

The U.S. Department of Education is soliciting ways to address this issue. They’re offering $1.2 million for three projects that will figure out ways to best work with English-language learners who have a disability or are at risk of having one. The request for proposals sounds like it’s encouraging projects that use the principles of response to intervention.

“The purpose of this priority is to support the establishment and operation of three model demonstration projects that will adapt, refine, and evaluate multi-tiered instructional frameworks as well as their components—progress monitoring, culturally responsive principles, reading instruction, and reading interventions...” the Federal Register notice reads.

Each idea for working with these students would have to be able to be demonstrated at five elementary schools where at least 40 percent of students are learning English. Three proposals will get awards of about $400,000 each.

A separate Federal Register notice lists an offer of $3 million for a developer of free educational materials, including textbooks, for students who are visually impaired and print-disabled and attend elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and graduate schools.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.