Questions and Answers:
1. Do the requirements for assessing limited English proficient (LEP) students’ English language proficiency (ELP) under Title I and Title III apply to LEP students who are also students with disabilities?
Yes. Both Titles I and III require local educational agencies (LEAs) and State educational agencies (SEAs) to provide an annual assessment of English language proficiency for all LEP students in the State enrolled in public schools in grades Kindergarten through twelve in the domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing (Section 1111(b)(7); 3113(b)(3)(D)).
2. Is it appropriate to continue to require administration of the annual ELP assessment in all domains of language even if a child may always score as a non-reader due to his/her disability?
Yes. It is important for all LEP students, including those with disabilities, to have a full opportunity to show what they know and are able to do in English and to be included in ELP assessment in all domains of language.
3. What are the ways in which LEP students with disabilities can participate in the State ELP assessment(s)?
LEP students who are also students with disabilities can participate in the State ELP assessment(s) through one of the following means:
- Participation in the State ELP assessment without accommodations, or
- Participation in the State ELP assessment through the use of one or more State-approved accommodations appropriate for the child’s disability, or
- Participation in a partial administration of the State ELP assessment, if determined appropriate by the individualized education program (IEP) team.
4. What is the role of the IEP team in determining accommodations for LEP students with disabilities on the State ELP assessment?
The IEP team or placement team may be the best-informed group to deliberate on decisions regarding such accommodations, though IDEA does not specifically address or prohibit the role of the IEP team in making decisions regarding accommodations for ELP assessments. Just as in determining what accommodations are needed for any student with a disability, the IEP team, with the appropriate representation, should be able to make sound decisions regarding what accommodations are needed for LEP students with disabilities.
Members of the IEP team for LEP students with disabilities should include speech language pathologists and other professionals with an understanding of how to differentiate between limited English proficiency and a disability. Team members should be provided training in this area, as well as in language acquisition and in serving students with disabilities, as needed (IDEA, Section 61(d)), or include bilingual/ESL teachers or other professionals with expertise in language acquisition as part of the team.
5. What should IEP teams consider when a student participates in the State ELP assessment through the use of one or more State-approved accommodations appropriate for the child’s disability?
First, such accommodations must not invalidate results from the ELP assessment.
Second, decisions regarding assessment accommodations should be made by individuals familiar with a child’s academic achievement and English language proficiency, such as the child’s IEP team or placement team. As stated throughout, the IEP team should include professionals with expertise in language acquisition and a speech-language pathologist. Decisions must always be made on the basis of individual student needs and must be documented.
Finally, accommodations may be used for the entire ELP assessment, or for part of the assessment. For example, one option may be to use an accommodation that is appropriate for a subtest of one domain of language just for that particular subtest.
6. Under what conditions would it be permissible for a State to have LEP students with disabilities participate in a partial administration of the State ELP assessment?
It is permissible for a State to allow some LEP students with disabilities to participate in a partial administration of the State ELP assessment, if appropriate, due to such students’ disabilities. For example, if a student is unable to produce expressive language, it may be appropriate for him/her to receive an exemption from participating in the speaking portion of the State ELP assessment.
Participation in a partial administration of the State ELP assessment would only be permitted if determined appropriate by the IEP team.
Decisions regarding which portions of an ELP assessment a student should participate in should be made by individuals familiar with a child’s academic achievement, and assessment of a child’s English language proficiency should be made on the basis of individual student needs, and must be documented. The decision should have the benefit of review and input of a speech and language pathologist.
7. How should States proceed in developing or revising State policies and practices for the ELP assessment of students with disabilities?
States are advised to consult with appropriate individuals at the SEA, LEA, and school levels with expertise in language acquisition and in the provision of services to students with disabilities, such as speech language pathologists, bilingual/ESL teachers, or other professionals with expertise in language acquisition, when developing such policies.
States are also advised to develop guidance for LEAs and schools to use with IEP teams regarding such policies, and to ensure through monitoring that policies are being implemented at the LEA and/or school levels.
8. Is it permissible for local personnel, such as school staff members or the IEP team, to remove an LEP designation from an LEP student who is a student with a disability?
No. The LEP designation cannot be removed from a child unless that child has met the criteria for “proficient” in English as defined by the State. It is important for LEP students with disabilities to have a full opportunity to show what they know and are able to do in English. Maintaining a child’s designation as LEP, as long as appropriate, may also give him/her access to services important to supporting his/her educational achievement. States submitted their definition of “proficient” in English to the U.S. Department of Education in the September 1, 2003 Submission to the Consolidated State Application. The definition of “limited English proficient” is found in Section 9101 of NCLB.
9. Must the ELP assessment results for LEP students with disabilities be included in Title III annual measurable achievement objectives (AMAOs)?
Yes. Results from ELP assessment for all LEP students should be included in both the making progress and in the proficient AMAO under Title III, as described in Section 3122(a)(3). All four domains of language (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) must be included in AMAOs.