English Learners

Mother laughing with older son

Resources from the Federal Department of Education

OSEP Fast Facts Students with Disabilities who are English Learners (ELs) Served under IDEA Part B

  • This OSEP Fast Fact explore our IDEA, Section 618 data with the specific lens on one of the fastest-growing populations of students with disabilities served under IDEA. OSEP Fast Facts is an ongoing effort to display data from the 12 data collections authorized under IDEA Section 618 into graphic, visual representations with the intent to present 618 data quickly and clearly. Visit the OSEP Fast Facts page for existing and future Fast Facts.

POLICY LETTER: November 15, 2021 — Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

  • The policy letter address inclusion of language development goals in an individualized education program (IEP), best practices to ensure appropriate instruction throughout the school day, and resources for developing IEPs and providing instruction for ELs with disabilities.

Dear Colleague Letter on IEP Translation – Communication from OSEP (June 14, 2016)

  • Statement of Interest (SOI) on IEP Translation 
    • These documents were filed by U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) in T.R. v. The School District of Philadelphia. to the court its interpretation of the correct legal standard governing the language-based discrimination claims of these Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 (EEOA). The SOI addresses, among other matters, the extent to which individualized education programs (IEPs) of children with disabilities must be translated for LEP parents under Title VI and the EEOA.

Q&A Regarding Inclusion of English Learners with Disabilities in English Language Proficiency Assessments and Title III Annual Measurable Achievement  

  • The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) issued guidance to help States and local educational agencies (LEAs) understand how Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Titles I and III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) address the inclusion of English Learners with disabilities in annual State English Language Proficiency assessments.  

English Learner Tool Kit: Tools and Resources for Addressing English Learners with Disabilities 

Resources from the Federally Funded Projects and Centers

Special Education--Personnel Development to Improve Services and Results for Children with Disabilities

  • OSEP funds a number of Personnel Development grants that prepare practitioners (educators and related services) to work with ELs and dual language learners (DLL) with disabilities.
  • Special Education -- Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program
    • OSEP just closed on a competition for new Stepping Up Technology Implementation (CFDA 84.327S) discretionary grants. New awards must support Early Childhood or K-12 Educators to deliver literacy instruction based on the science of reading to ELs with, and at risk for, disabilities.
    • Current grantees funded under this program with a focus on Els include ESCOLA and Step Up AT
  • Model Demonstration Research Projects - In September 2011 and September of 2016, OSEP funded two cohorts of Model Demonstration Projects that developed and implemented culturally and linguistically responsive models for multitiered system of supports for ELs, including those with, and at risk for, disabilities. Features of these models include:
    • Appropriate research-based reading instruction and intervention for ELs
    • Culturally responsive teaching strategies and principles
    • Professional development and strategic coaching for teachers
    • Linguistically aligned progress monitoring and screening measures
    • Data-based educational decision making

Center for Parent Information and Resources (CPIR)

National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII)

  • NCII has a page on Intensive & English Learners: This section highlights resources and tools designed to support educators in implementing intensive intervention with ELs.

IRIS Center

  • The IRIS Center develops and disseminates free, engaging online resources about evidence-based instructional and behavioral practices to support the education of all students, particularly struggling learners and those with disabilities.  Teaching English Language Learners: Effective Instructional Practices. This module helps teachers understand second language acquisition, the importance of academic English, and instructional practices that will enhance learning for ELs.

National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI)

  • NCSI supports states to transform their systems to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Through a series of events in 2022, NCSI commits to supporting state education agencies (SEAs) and their allies in expanding understanding about the intersection of language, culture, and disability in K–12 education and identifying next steps to enact system improvements that focus on elevating equity in both opportunity and achievement for students who are ELs with disabilities.

Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA)

  • When assessing young children for early intervention or special education services, practitioners need to be sensitive to the cultural and linguistic variations that exist in our society. Appropriate procedures need to be in place to determine which language will be used to conduct assessments and to ensure that appropriate assessment/screening tools are being used. It is critical to obtain a non-biased picture of the child's abilities, in order to determine whether certain patterns of development and behavior are caused by a disability or are simply the result of cultural and linguistic differences. Resources are presented here to help address these issues.

Identifying and supporting English learner students with learning disabilities:
Key issues in the literature and State practice  

  • This report was authored by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. This review of research and policy literature distills several key elements of processes that can help identify and support English learner students with learning disabilities. It also describes current guidelines and protocols used by the 20 States with the largest populations of English learner students. This report informs education leaders who are setting up processes to determine which English learner students may need placement in special education programs as opposed to other assistance.


Statement on Supporting Young Dual Language Learners (2016)

  • The purpose of this joint U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and ED policy statement is to support early childhood programs and States by providing recommendations that promote the development and learning of young children, birth to age five, who are DLLs.

RTI-Based SLD Identification Toolkit: Considerations for English Learners 

  • This webpage contains guidance for the instruction of students who are culturally or linguistically diverse and for making valid decisions for determining special education eligibility in the following areas: Tier 1 Core Instruction, Tiers 2 and 3 Interventions, and Culturally Responsive Assessments and Interpretation. This page also includes references that provide additional information about the cultural- and linguistic-sensitivity of assessments.

Video: English Learners with Learning Disabilities  

  • This video of a webcast features bilingual speech-language pathologist Dr. Elsa Cárdenas-Hagan. The presenter discusses effective assessment and instruction strategies for English learners (ELs) with learning disabilities (LD), as well as ways to help encourage the active involvement of parents of ELs with LD in their children's schools. Colorin Colorado is a bilingual site for educators and families of English learners (ELs).