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English Language Learners with Disabilities: Classification, Assessment, and Accommodation Issues


  • CRESST/University of California, Davis National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing


English language learners with disabilities (ELLWD) face many challenges in their academic career. Learning a new language and coping with their disabilities create obstacles in their academic progress. Variables relegating accessibility of assessments for students with disabilities and ELL students may seriously hinder the academic performance of ELLWD students. Furthermore, classification and accommodation for these students requires a more complex design than those for either ELLs or students with disabilities. Proper identification of these students is a challenge if their disability is masked by their limited English proficiency, or vice versa. Improper identification may lead to inappropriate instruction, assessment and accommodation for these students. Linguistic and cultural biases may affect the validity of assessment for ELLWD students. In this paper, issues concerning accessibility of assessment, classification, and accommodations for ELLWD students are discussed and recommendations for more accessible assessments for these students are provided.

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