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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessment tools to differentiate between language differences and disorders in English language learners

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English language learners (ELLs) who are in the process of acquiring English as a secondlanguage for academic purposes, are often misidentified as having Language LearningDisabilities (LLDs). Policies regarding the assessment of ELLs have undergone many changesthrough the years, such as the introduction of a Response to Intervention (RTI) model, assessmentin both first and second languages, and utilization of supplemental assessments. The purpose ofthis study is to take stock of the assessment tools and district policies that are in place to make adifferential diagnosis. A total of 75 participants from California school districts, consisting ofspeech language pathologists, school psychologists, special educators, and paraprofessionals,completed an online survey. The results indicate that while professionals in the field utilizestandardized cognitive abilities tests, informal assessments, and bilingual language tests as part oftheir assessment battery, there is still a need for bilingual language support and a standardizedRTI model across schools and districts.

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