Identifying literacy disorders in english language learners using a school-based framework

Identifying literacy disorders in english language learners using a school-based framework

First Author: Rouzana Komesidou -- MGH Institute of Health Professions
Additional authors/chairs: 
Xue Bao ; Crystle Alonzo; Julie Wolter ; Jessie Rickets ; Tiffany Hogan
Keywords: English Language Learners (ELL), Literacy development, early identification, Screening
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine best school-based practices to accurately identify literacy disorders in English Language Learners (ELL) in a large diverse US school district. Evaluation of literacy skills in ELL within US schools is challenging given the range of children’s levels of English proficiency, the large number of languages, and lack of consistent use of evidence-based measures.

Method: Phase 1 of the study was completed in Fall 2019 and involved administering a whole-classroom language screener to 2000 Kindergartners, 60% of whom are ELL. Phase 2 of the study will be completed in Spring 2020 and will involve administering a whole-classroom literacy screener and individual dynamic assessments of reading and language.

Results: Phase 1 data analyses show that in those who were monolingual or had functional English proficiency, 42% were identified as at-risk, as expected. Of ELL children with lower English proficiency, 74% were identified at risk, which overestimates what would be expected. Phase 2 data analyses will test the hypotheses that later screening and the use of alternative measures such as dynamic assessments will provide more accurate risk estimates for ELL.

Conclusions: ELL is a growing population in the US. Thus, it is imperative that we better identify literacy disorders in ELL and do so within school-based frameworks to expedite the translation process between research and practice.