Best Practices for Distinguishing Language Acquisition and Learning Disabilities

Speaking: Dr. Julie Esparza Brown

While educators often speak about multilingual learners (MLs) as a group, the reality is MLs vary on many factors. Knowledge of student level factors help to align instructional practices to meet ML students' unique needs. To answer the question of whether academic challenges are rooted in second language acquisition differences or a true disability, all students must have access to high-quality core instruction matched to their specific backgrounds. We will examine the typologies of this heterogeneous group and discuss specific instructional factors to consider. Then we will review the MTSS tiers and how data collected across the tiers by a collaborative team guide appropriate referral decisions. Finally, special education programming for MLs will be highlighted.