The role of assessment teams in the decision on the language of instruction for limited English proficient handicapped students

Nivia Zavala, Fordham University


The study addressed the relationship and differences among the linguistic information collected by multidisciplinary assessment teams and the type of decision on language instructional program. Data relevant to linguistic factors, academic achievement, and cultural-linguistic experience were identified, listed, and categorized. Analysis of the relationship of the assessment data to the three types of instructional language programs was the core of the investigation. Supplementary information was provided through the content analysis of 30 cases. The analysis suggested that more formal and norm-referenced assessment techniques were used to make decisions on the language of instruction of LEP handicapped students, particularly in the case of students who are speakers of both English and Spanish and assigned to Bilingual Instructional Services II classes where content areas may be taught in either language. An increase in the results of the English LAB score was found to be directly related to decisions of the multidisciplinary team of increasing English in the instruction of the students. Similarly, the results of the WISC-R related positively with the decision of ESL assignment. The language spoken at home as well as the student's language preference were considered indicators of the language of instruction. Students whose home language was Spanish were recommended to Bilingual Instructional Services I classes where content area instruction was delivered in Spanish. The results of the analysis of the language of preference was very similar. The language of instruction significantly matched the student's language of preference. In the case of Bilingual Instructional Services II, where students were receiving content area instruction in both languages, the group was equally divided in their language preference. However, this finding needs to be taken with caution because of the limited number of cases that included students' language preference in their reports. The content analysis provided an additional dimension to the study. As a result, a language profile per language instructional program was developed. The language profiles included characteristics related to linguistic factors, academic achievement, and cultural elements. Comparison among the profiles suggests a language framework that assessment teams may use in their collection of data for the purpose of recommending instructional language programs. Evidence showed that the collection of data requires development and support. Information regarding achievement and cultural factors were inconsistent or not collected throughout the assessment. A high percentage of missing information on the records may lead to inadequate decisions on the language of instruction and special education placement in general.

Subject Area

Special education|Educational evaluation

Recommended Citation

Zavala, Nivia, "The role of assessment teams in the decision on the language of instruction for limited English proficient handicapped students" (1992). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9304529.