English learners and students with disabilities both need educational supports to succeed in school. However, the kinds of support these two groups of students need may be different, and not receiving appropriate supports may have negative consequences on student learning. To provide appropriate supports, schools need to accurately identify students who are both English learners and have disabilities.
This study uses 2012-13 data from Washington state to compare the percentages of current and former English learners (“ever-English learners”) in special education to the percentage of never-English learners in special education. It also compares the grades at which ever- and never-English learners are first identified for special education. The study further examines whether representation in and identification for special education varies by gender, home language, race and ethnicity, English learner status, and level of English proficiency.
Greenberg Motamedi, J., Cox, M., Williams, J., & Deussen,T. (November 2016). Uncovering Diversity: Examining the Representation of English Learners in Special Education in Washington State. Portland, OR: Education Northwest.