Special Education M.A.

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Lehner, Erica

Second Reader

Jan Mrozinski


This thesis explores the multifaceted issue of misidentifying English Language Learners (ELLs) with learning disabilities (LDs) in the educational system. The study begins by delving into the complicated reasons underlying such misidentifications, recognizing the significance of understanding the complex interplay between language acquisition challenges and learning disabilities. Utilizing empirical evidence and conducting an extensive literature review, the research uncovers the intricate factors contributing to the misidentification of ELLs, including linguistic diversity, cultural biases, and the limitations of assessment tools. Following this exploration of the problem's dimensions, the thesis outlines solutions designed to prevent the misidentification of ELLs with LDs. These solutions encompass professional development for educators, culturally and linguistically responsive assessments, active involvement of parents and caregivers, individualized education plans, collaborative efforts, vigilant monitoring, and multilingual support. By embracing these solutions, educational institutions can ensure that ELLs receive the tailored support and interventions they require without the risk of being incorrectly labeled as a special education student. This research contributes to a more inclusive and equitable educational environment, acknowledging ELL students' diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. It underscores the imperative need for the education system to adapt and evolve, providing every student with the opportunity to thrive, regardless of linguistic or cultural differences.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis