Communication Series: Education and Research Supports for English Learners (ELs) during COVID-19

Communication # 8: November, 2020

Focus: Virtual Learning for English Learners Receiving Special Education Services

CEEL continues to provide Education and Research Supports for ELs during COVID-19. This is the eighth  publication in our Communication series based on CEEL’s research-based  Equitable Distance Learning for English Learners Design Principles (versión en español).

  • Voices from the Field - highlighting educators’ commendable and steadfast efforts to serve English Learners and Dual Language Learners in virtual learning spaces during these unprecedented times; 
  • Resources and Research -curated resources focused on ELs/DLLs across a variety of topics such as social and emotional learning, highlights of best practices for distance learning, instructional materials, professional learning in virtual spaces, leadership, and family-school partnerships.

A Voice from the Field – Vanessa Lopez

Vanessa has been an educator for 18 years and in her present role as Coordinator for the Imperial Valley SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) she partners with teachers to support their work with a high population of students who are dually-identified, English Learners who receive Special Education services. She is dedicated to the students and their families in the largely rural, agricultural communities in the Imperial County. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Vanessa’s approach was to encourage teachers to explore and be creative with technology but to keep the focus on pedagogy that supports content learning and language acquisition.  Realizing that the transition in Spring 2020 to virtual teaching and learning was something new for teachers, administrators, students, and families and  “truly a shock to everyone’s system”, Vanessa had to respond to field requests coming in from school sites, and reply with suggestions that were responsive to the unique needs of dually-identified special education students and that could be accomplished with resources that teachers already had and those that could be accessed right away. Alongside teachers, she has co-constructed solutions while challenging herself and educators to replicate the social interaction our students really need, monitor student learning, and hold students accountable without overwhelming them.

To view the extended version of Voices of the field click here.

English Learners and SPED: Resources and Research

California’s student population is diverse and often has complex educational needs that have been heightened by distance learning.  There are nearly 1.2 million English Learners in California.  Approximately 16.6 percent of these English Learners have also been classified as students with disabilities, compared to 12 percent of California’s students who qualified for special education services.  Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) continue to explore ways to appropriately identify, assess, determine eligibility and provide services for dually-identified English Learners receiving special education services.

A critical element of Assets-Oriented and Needs-Responsive Schools stipulated in the California English Learner Roadmap Policy is the commitment to develop a collaborative framework for identifying English learners with disabilities that includes valid assessment practices. As LEAs continue to address the challenges of the triple pandemic, schools and districts need to operationalize this framework in collaboration with families as they develop and implement appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that addresses academic goals and take into account student language development.

To access the Distance Learning for resources for English Learners and SPED click here.

CEEL has also curated an extensive resource guide to support for ELs/DLLs' distance learning. To view the resource guide, please click on the following: Distance Learning Resources: Education and Research Supports for English Learners.

In each of our communications we will continue to highlight voices from the field and education and research resources as we walk this journey in partnership with our colleagues, fellow educators, advocates, and friends.

If you would like to view or download this Communication in full, please click on the following: English Learners and SPED.

Previous Communications
View previous Communications in this Communications Series

Contact Us

Contact us at ceel@lmu.edu with comments, additional resources, or to share your story.