Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

Bilingual special education is defined by some researchers as the instances in which student participation in an individually designed, special education program is conducted in both the student’s native language and English; in such a program, the student’s home culture is also considered, framed in an inclusive environment. Special education is an interdisciplinary field that addresses the educational needs of English language learners with disabilities.

The majority of this population is Latino, which is now the largest minority group in the nation’s schools. This is a small field, partly because of limited understanding of the needs and developmental trajectories of this population but also because of a lack of programmatic research. A significant personnel shortage has been documented for years, as described by Leonard Baca and Hermes Cervantes. In the seminal text The Bilingual Special Education Interface, de Valenzuela, Baca, and Baca argue for a bilingual-special education interface as a way to address the limitations of fragmented and separate general, bilingual, and special education services.

They recommend the seamless integration of these programs so that the needs of this population are addressed by various groups of professionals in general education. The convergence of several contemporary reform movements is blurring the boundaries of these systems, though in rather complex ways. First, a growing anti-immigrant and antibilingual discourse has strengthened movements to curtail services for this population in some states.

This situation has increased the pressure on general education, since English language learners (ELLs) are being educated in programs that offer few linguistic supports. General education is also absorbing this population at a time when federal accountability policies require states and districts to report high performance levels as measured by standardized achievement tests. This is an important challenge because ELLs have traditionally performed poorly in such measures. It is not clear how general education will address the need of these learners.

By rahul