Ask the Experts: Limited English Proficiency (LEP)

We received this email from one of our Pathfinders with a question for our Deaf Education experts.

I have a question about instruction and LEP–

I live in West Virginia.

I have found West Virginia policy 2417 which addresses the education of Limited English Proficient children. The policy addresses highly qualified teachers, training, objectives, measurable goals, assessment, etc etc.

I believe this policy would be extremely helpful in educating deaf children for several reasons:

First, the policy already is in place.  Addressing deaf education with this policy would allow for immediate change.

Second, I believe the topic of highly qualified teachers and on-going training is excellent as it would provide deaf children with trained teachers.

Third, I believe the clear guidelines for writing objectives that are at the child’s level no matter the child’s year in school is critical because not only will instruction be on an accessible level but staff/parents/etc will be required to recognize the student’s level (delayed? advanced?) on an on-going basis.  I believe this is critical to motivate the school, teachers, parents, etc to acknowledge that their deaf child needs critical instruction in order to achieve literacy.

I would like to have your input about the topic of limited English proficient students and instruction.

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Our expert, Frank, who works in Special Education Services of the Georgia Department of Education, shared his opinion with us:

I have not identified significant benefit from identifying students who are deaf or hard of hearing as English Learners (EL).  They would be coded as EL, which triggers additional requirements.  They would have to participate in EL classes with a certified teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages who only use English and address reading, writing, listening and speaking.  They would have to be screened annually, and the screening has a required listening component.  The district must exit a portion of EL students each year, and deaf students would likely not pass the listening screening to exit the program; therefore, coding them as EL students may hinder the district’s ability to maintain the meager Title III funds for EL services.

Teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages are notoriously clear and deliberate communicators in spoken English.  They function as excellent language models for students who can access spoken English.  Students with hearing loss will have varying levels of access to this modeling.

If you have input or insights to share, please share your ideas below. We’d love to hear from you!

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