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Identifying and Addressing the Special Needs of English Learners

Every day teachers struggle to determine if the learning difficulties of ELs extend beyond 'expected' new language development and cultural adjustment. Existing assessment and intervention approaches may not reflect the complicated interrelationships between language and literacy development. or account for cultural and linguistic influences and backgrounds. Thus, interventions often fail for EL students because they do not address the holistic needs of the student.

ELs who are experiencing significant challenges in school, or not progressing as expected, are best served when assessment and intervention decisions are made collaboratively, including the perspective of the ESL specialist. special needs teacher, classroom teacher, and family. Supports are more effective when they are designed and implemented as part of a continuum that reflects the interrelated identified language, cultural, and learning needs.

The popularity of Response to Intervention (RtI), Planning and Placement Teams (PPT), or other forms of data teams at many schools has brought attention to the needs of EL students; but without a deep understanding of the relationships between language acquisition and learning disabilities, interventions may be ineffective, and even detrimental, for students. ESL specialists must be involved to provide specialized knowledge and advocate for EL students at all levels of intervention as well as during and following any referral and IEP process.
demonstrated outcomes
• Advocate for EL students during collaborative teams focused on data and assessment review (PPT, RtI, or other), referral, and intervention (IEP) . 

• Distinguish between learning disabilities, language development dynamics, and/or other difficulties that ELs have in school, in ways that explicitly account for cultural and linguistic backgrounds .

• Recommend applicable interventions to address identified academic challenges related to language development. 

All Teachers are Teachers of English Learners

Providing professional learning for all teachers to support high quality, equitable education for English Learners
The ExcEL Leadership Academy recognizes the need for a better approach to professional learning that prepares all teachers to work with English Learners. This approach melds current knowledge of effective adult learning and effective instruction for English Learners, geared toward mainstream teachers. By using a micro-credential approach, in which teachers progress at their own rate and demonstrate their mastery of best practices,  the ExcEL Leadership Academy makes professional learning about English Learners more accessible to more teachers.
Professional learning and growth is recognized through earned micro-credentials 
  • ExcEL has developed a sequential, tiered approach to career advancement based on earned micro-credentials. Every classroom teacher working with English learners should complete the six basic micro-credentials (shown in blue on the diagram below). Those who are interested in becoming ESL specialist teachers may go on to complete the second set of six micro-credentials (shown in gray on the diagram).
  • ExcEL micro-credentials are self-paced, self-directed, blended learning experiences that include both in-person and online learning. As such, it is less expensive than traditional workshop or graduate school experiences, and it gives teachers the flexibility to work on their own without taking time out of the classroom. Participants select focus areas and pathways to implementation, so their learning is always tailored to their needs.
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