The appropriate referral, identification, and placement of learners who are bilingual or English Language Learners is necessary to ensure students' civil rights as well as their free and appropriate public education aligned with the individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Students with disabilities who are also English Language Learners require additional collaboration amongst providers to be successful.
When learners who are Culturally and/or Linguistically Diverse (CLD) are referred for special education it is necessary to use caution so as not to discriminate because of language or cultural differences. The following questions provide a framework for considering the relationship of culture and language to a possible disability as the child moves through the Special Education process.
- Is this an appropriate referral?
- Have we considered the important language factors to design the assessment?
- Do we have sufficient, unbiased information to make a decision?
- How will we coordinate to meet the complex needs of this child?
Adams 14 uses a Bilingual Team to provide Spanish assessments when necessary. There are two forms that can be used to assist teams in determining if a student will need a Bilingual evaluation: The Guide to the Special Education Assessment of ELL/ESL Students and the SOLOM Teacher Observation Checklist. A student’s ACCESS testing results should always be considered, but should not be the only source of information when making the determination for a Bilingual assessment.
Interpretation and Translations
Providing appropriate educational opportunities, nondiscriminatory evaluation and placement, and an explanation of due process procedures for non-English proficient students and their families will at times necessitate the use of the student’s primary or home language. School intervention teams must have access to qualified interpreters/translators to provide appropriate and meaningful communication with ELL students and their families. In fact, CDE has begun to use the term “Cultural Mediator” to describe these important individuals who “translate between the culture of the school environment and the child’s family in order to enhance understanding, share information, and create a relationship that supports families as full participants in the assessment process and delivery of education services”.
The operational definitions for interpreter and translator are:
- An interpreter is a person who orally translates a spoken message from one language to another. The interpreter’s duty is to facilitate communication and understanding between persons who are unable to communicate directly. Oral interpreters must be good speakers in English and the target language, as well as being sensitive to the cultural practices of both parties.
- A translator is a person who renders the content and meaning of a written message or document into its equivalent in another language in the form of a written message or document. Translators must possess good writing skills in both English and the target language, as well as being sensitive to the cultural practices of both parties.
In Adams 14, all requests for interpreters and translations must be addressed to the district’s Translation office. Spanish speaking interpreters are available in the district, and interpreters of other languages may be arranged through this office as well.