Challenges and Academic Growth of Multilingual Students at Eastridge




Hwang, Sang
Hindman, Janet
Robinson, Elaina
Cervantes, Karime

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There are a number of reasons why multilingual learners are placed in special education programs even when it is unnecessary. In the United States, there is growing concern about over-identifying and under-identifying English learners (ELs) with disabilities. The research study proposes to examine the challenges in special education identification for multicultural learners at Eastridge Elementary School of the Amarillo Independent School District in Amarillo, Texas. This school represents a good sample of multilingual learners with 95.7% of minority enrollment, including 45% of Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander (mostly with refugee students), 28% of Hispanic/Latino, 23% of Black or African American, and 4% of White/Caucasian. The purpose of the research is threefold: 1) to collect updated data of diversity demographics at Eastridge Elementary School in Amarillo, Texas; 2) to investigate the challenges in special education identification for multilingual learners at school; and 3) to compare and analyze both district benchmark data of multilingual students with the Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) and with our research findings to determine student growth in English Language Arts and Reading (ELAR). Ultimately, the research project will seek to suggest high leverage teaching models for multilingual students who are also eligible for special education services.


As a mixed methods research study, the proposed methodology for this research chiefly involves classroom observations, online surveys, in person interviews, a focus group, assessments, and the Texas Academic Performance Reports (TAPR) from the Texas Education Agency. Two undergraduate students were hired from the Department of Education to assist in the data collection of the study and closely assist selected multilingual students in the 5th grade classes within as well as outside the classroom. These research assistants will collect data in the areas of oral language fluency through interviews and observations, along with vocabulary knowledge, reading comprehension, and writing skills in the selected assessments. They will report their findings in their reflection journals and share their experiences during the weekly team meetings. This research will also collect data from administrators and teachers through online or in person surveys, asking about their perceptions on special education identification for those who speak multi-languages. The adult participants will share practical strategies when dealing with issues that their multilingual students encounter everyday at school. The research study will focus on the directions to pursue in order to provide proper strategies for multilingual learners who are struggling in learning.


2023 Faculty and Student Research Poster Session and Research Fair, West Texas A&M University, Department of Education, Poster, Multilingual learner, Special education, English learners, Multicultural learners, Amarillo Independent School District, Eastridge Elementary School, English Language Arts and Reading


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