The journal Exceptional Children recently published a paper from our researchers in the ODE/OSU ELL Partnership. The featured study tests the effect of the ever-EL framework, a method for including current and former ELs in considering outcomes for all students who entered school as ELs.

Partnership researchers Dr. Ilana Umansy, Dr. Karen Thompson, and Dr. Guadalupe Diaz compared the use of current-EL and ever-EL frameworks to understand how English learners K-12 are proportionally represented in special education, and more specifically within the different disability categories. They found that current ELs are highly overrepresented in special education at the middle and high school levels. However, there was no evidence of overrepresentation of ever-ELs at these higher grades. In fact, ever-ELs were significantly underrepresented in special education overall and in most disability categories.

Patterns for reclassification (exiting students from EL services), might help explain these results. ELs with disabilities are far less likely than ELs without disabilities to exit EL services. The outcome is a bottleneck, with a substantial proportion of dually identified students remaining in EL services at the secondary level.