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 Helping to Properly Identify Student Needs

​Sometimes students who are learning English as a second language are incorrectly identified as having a learning disability.

Almost 100 educators and psychologists learned more about properly identifying these students Sept. 9 at a workshop put on by the San Diego County Office of Education’s South County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA).

The six-hour workshop was presented by Dr. Samuel Ortiz, a professor of psychology at St. John’s University in New York.

Students who aren’t fluent in English can be placed unnecessarily into special education programs because there are stages of language acquisition that can resemble some disabilities, said Russell Coronado, senior director of the SELPA.

“We’re trying to do whatever we can to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.

Dr. Ortiz taught attendees about evaluating students with an approach based on a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. The lessons included underlying theories as well as practical applications.

The South County SELPA has worked to find things in the Local Control and Accountability Plans created by the districts it serves to guide its professional development offerings, including the free workshop for school psychologists, special education coordinators, and special education directors.