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English Language Learners

Supporting English Learners and ELs with Disabilities

The number of English Learners (ELs) in Massachusetts is growing. We are committed to assisting districts uphold their obligation to provide appropriate support to ELs that require additional assistance — such as additional language acquisition instruction, instructional support services, and in some cases, special education.

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Guidance for Supporting English Learners with Disabilities

How are educators in Massachusetts supporting ELs with Disabilities?

Below are interviews with Massachusetts ESL educators and school leaders working to meet the needs of ELs with disabilities. Hear their stories and download key resources for the classroom, school, and district.

Using a Tiered System for Support

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Key Resources
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The Massachusetts Tiered System of Supports (MTSS)
Blueprint is one example framework districts can use to implement school-wide initiatives that assist all students.
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SfSS Quick Reference Guides: Scheduling within a Tiered System of Support


Providing Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Instruction

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Key Resources
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Massachusetts Educator Effectiveness Guidebook for Inclusive Practice
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Cultural Proficiency: A Strategy to Address Equity Gaps in Students' Achievement and Learning Experiences
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WIDA Response to Instruction & Intervention (RtI2) for English Language Learners
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WIDA Family Engagement
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Focus on ELLs with Disabilities: Providing Access to Complex Language (WIDA)
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RTI Action Network: Diversity and Disproportionality
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U.S. Department of Education Family and Community Engagement


Language Acquisition/Classroom Resources

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Key Resources
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Model Curriculum Units


Evaluating ELs for Special Education and Related Services

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Key Resources
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IEP Process Guide
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WIDA Focus on ELLs with Disabilities: Identifying ELLs with Specific Learning Disabilities


ESL Educators and the IEP Process

As key members of the IEP team, ESL educators can provide insight into a student's linguistic ability, culture, educational experience, and involving the family.

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Key Resources
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A Parent's Guide to Special Education
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English Language Learners with Disabilities in Massachusetts: Current Status and Next Steps for Identification and Instruction


Collaborating for Student Support

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Key Resources
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SfSS Quick Reference Guides: Student Support Teams
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Elements of Effective PLCs, Next Generation ESL Curriculum Project: ESL Curriculum Resource Guide

Additional Resources

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Guidance on Identification, Assessment, Placement, and Reclassification of English Language Learners
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Guidance for Defining and Implementing Two Way Immersion Programs
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Is Special Education the Right Service?
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Supporting English Learners and Students With Disabilities: Strategies From Turnaround Schools in Massachusetts
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Dear Colleague Letter; English Learner Students and Limited English Proficient Parents 1.7.2015
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USED English Learner Tool Kit

Laws Regarding English Learners with Disabilities

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Massachusetts English Learner Education Law — Chapter 71A English Language Education in Public Schools
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Massachusetts Education of English Learners Regulations
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Massachusetts Special Education Law — Chapter 71B with Special Needs
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Massachusetts Special Education Regulations
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Federal Civil Rights Law Concerning Limited English Proficient Students
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USED Title III Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students Legislation
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Federal Laws and Regulations Special Education


Last Updated: April 4, 2019
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