Hot List Q & A
Determining if pre-K students have language or cognitive
Using the Home Language Survey to
flag students in Pre-K is the only “sensible” way to identify Dual language
learners at the Pre-K level. If your school has a free Pre-K, then those
students are already identified as LEP and will count as from that moment.
As you do, you help the teachers with strategies and modifications and
observe the students and you give them ESL services in K. If your pre-K
program is tuition based, then those students begin to count in K. Either
way, we still work with the early childhood teachers guiding and supporting
them and the students.
The big thing is that they are still acquiring their own home language at
that age. So to use the WIDA MODEL to help them be declassified, as you
point out, is not the best way to help them. The MODEL is not an assessment
tool used to diagnose a disability and at this age, if tested, it should be
done in their native language, which is also their dominant language or
“mother tongue”. Disability or not, they ARE STILL DEVELOPING BOTH
LANGUAGES. Yes, we do use the MODEL to screen incoming Kindergartners and
you could use it as one of multiple criteria to help the district decide if
the students should receive services in K but again, not as a Special Ed
screener since it was not developed as such and has no validity for that
However, you may find this information helpful; I am copying this from the
new WIDA’s A Theoretical Framework for Early English Language Development
(E-ELD) Standards for Dual Language Learners
http://www.wida.us/standards/eeld.aspx. Please take a look at their research to consider different ways to work
with the CST. p.9-11 will give you an idea of how to compare the monolingual
Pre-K students to DLLs.
The E-ELD Framework allows for this more “fluid” interpretation of academic
language for our youngest learners. Finally, specific consideration has been
given to the nature of early language and cognitive development, family and
community-based socio-cultural contexts for language learning, and the
psycholinguistic nature of second language acquisition in preschoolers who
are still developing the foundational structures and rules of language.
Experts agree that it takes monolingual children approximately the first
five years of life to learn and refine the basic phonological, semantic,
syntactic, and pragmatic rules of their language (Bedore & Peña, 2008;
DeHouwer, 2009; Tabors, 2008). The E-ELD Framework honors young children’s
cognitive and linguistic capacities during this early period of language
development while taking into account differences that may exist for
children who are learning more than one language.
Please let us know how this situation is resolved since it helps all of us
for future reference.
PreK-K SIG Representative