Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Madson Ankeny

Second Advisor

Dee Cole Vodicka


The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand how special education teams are making decisions regarding ruling out language proficiency when considering English Learners for a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) evaluation. This information was obtained through the perspectives of multi-categorical special education teachers. Data was collected through interviews with seven teachers from five different elementary schools. Five themes emerged from the data: (a) Let's start with Interventions (Tier 2), (b) Next let's figure out what is going on (Pre-referral team), (c) Who can we rely on to help us? (Trust of team members), (d) What can we use to help? (District resources), and (e) How can we make it better? (Change or more clarification). The findings concluded that there were inconsistencies with interventions within the school district as well as the pre-referral teams and processes. There was varying knowledge of English Language issues. These conclusions lead to recommendations for district level changes to Tier 2 interventions and pre-referral processes, a language assessment team, future hiring of teachers with more diverse cultural and language backgrounds, and further training for special education teachers.


SC 11.MAE.2015.Wynn.D