Disproportionality of English Language Learners in Special Education

Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2024

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Shirley Johnson


This literature review delves into the critical issue of disproportionality among English Language Learners (ELLs) in special education programs. The study comprehensively explores the factors contributing to this phenomenon and proposes strategies to address it effectively. The review begins by defining ELLs and elucidating the complexities surrounding their educational experiences. It emphasizes the importance of involving diverse stakeholders in decision-making processes concerning ELLs, highlighting the necessity of collaboration among educators, parents, administrators, and specialists. Furthermore, the review scrutinizes the significance of providing fair and equitable testing opportunities for ELLs, advocating for assessment practices that consider linguistic and cultural diversity. Moreover, the review identifies proactive measures educators can undertake to counteract the trend of disproportionality, emphasizing the need for culturally responsive teaching, differentiated instruction, and early intervention strategies. Additionally, the study underscores the essential supports that ELLs require to thrive academically, encompassing linguistic scaffolding, culturally relevant curriculum, and access to appropriate instructional materials. Lastly, the review outlines actionable next steps to address this pressing issue, including policy reforms, professional development initiatives, and community engagement efforts aimed at fostering inclusive and equitable educational environments for all students, regardless of linguistic background. By synthesizing existing research and offering practical recommendations, this literature review contributes to the ongoing discourse on mitigating disproportionality among ELLs in special education and advancing educational equity for all learners.

Abstract only: No full text available.