Data gathered from the American Community Survey (ACS) report in 2007 on the percentage of U.S. population, age 5 and over, relates that out of 281 million people, 55.4 million are speaking a language other than English at home. This segment of population constitutes over 24% and it has increased from 1980 to 2007 more than 140%. Out of the 55.4 million people whose primary language is other than English, 62% are Spanish language speakers, founding the largest group of foreign language speakers in the United States (Shin & Kominski, 2010).
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2012) in United States’ public schools, English Language Learners (ELL), formally known as ...view middle of the document...
, 2005; Klinger, Hoover, & Baca, 2008; Sullivan, 2011; Wilkinson, Ortiz, Robertson, & Kushner, 2006; Zehler et al., 2003).
However, the most common factors brought-forth in the research literature are related to referral, assessment, identification and determination for eligibility practices (Fletcher, Coulter, Reschly, & Vaughn, 2004; Samson & Lesaux, 2009; Wilkinson et al., 2006).
Until the reauthorization of Individual with Disability Education Act (IDEA) in 2004, the most common practice for identifying students with a learning disability (LD) were based on discrepancy component (Fletcher et al., 2004), which requires the presence of severe discrepancy between intelligence and academic achievement test scores in one or more of the following areas: oral expression, written expression, basic reading, reading fluency skills, reading comprehension, and mathematics (U.S. Department of Education, ED, 2006).
The problem that lies within this model, also known as “wait to fail” is that it can take several years until the discrepancy is indicating a clear pattern of low academic achievement in the standardized tests (Fletcher et al., 2004; Wagner, Francis, & Morris, 2005).
Because of the large academic achievement gap reported in Zehler et al. (2003), that 76% of the third grade ELL students’ performed below grade level in reading and 52% of the students performed below grade level in math; waiting to fail approach poses acute concerns for ELL students (Flescher et al., 2004; Wagner et al., 2005). The research has shown that the longer it takes to intervene for a reading problem, the more difficult it becomes to remediate it (Wagner et al., 2005). Therefore, it is essential for schools to employ alternative research-based interventions and alternative assessment procedures to determine the reasons ELL student are scoring below grade level, before the achievement gap becomes too difficult to overcome.
Alternatives to discrepancy model are stipulated in the reauthorized IDEA 2004 and allow states to adopt research-based procedures for LD determination and the use of Response to Intervention process (RTI) as a base for LD evaluation (ED, 2006).
Response to Intervention is not just an alternative to the discrepancy approach or an alternative path towards special education services, but it is rather a method for evaluation and assessing the effects of exposure to effective learning instructions (Fletcher et al., 2004). RTI prevents labeling students as disabled by employing early interventions for academic and behavioral problems (Ortiz et al., 2011). When RTI process is in use, referral for special education related services is made only when minimal response to effective interventions is attained (Wagner et al, 2005); requirement specified in the exclusionary section of IDEA 2004.
The exclusionary provision excludes a specific learning disability if the student meets one or more of the following: mental retardation,...