From EDC.org: (click for full article)
When students struggle to learn, teachers have the difficult job of identifying whether the root cause is a learning disability. But teachers of students whose first language is not English (termed English language learners or “ELLs”) face the even more difficult task of determining whether a learning disability or a language barrier is hampering the student. This initial diagnosis has a direct impact on the types of services that a student receives in school.
This issue is of greatest concern in urban school districts, where populations of ELL students tend to be highest. In Los Angeles, for example, nearly 30 percent of the student population is categorized as ELL; half of those students are also enrolled in special education programs. And in Houston, the dropout rate for limited English proficient students is double that of students receiving special education services.
Drawing on her own experiences working with urban districts around the country, EDC’s Claudia Rinaldi believes that special education and ELL services are too often at odds with each other, leaving many students behind.