Preschool English Language Learners with Disabilities: A Comparison of Recommended and Actual Language of Instruction Practices



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This study investigated, through survey methodology, the instructional practices of teachers of English Language Learners (ELLs) with disabilities in Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities (PPCD). These practices were compared to best-practice recommendations made by a group of evaluators in the field of bilingual special education. Results indicated that teacher practices differed considerably from recommendations made by expert evaluators in the field. Specifically, teachers preferred English as the exclusive language of instruction while expert evaluators strongly recommended bilingual instruction. Also, teachers reported strong administrator support while expert evaluators did not. Furthermore, most teachers reported satisfaction with the instruction of ELLs in their schools while most expert evaluators reported dissatisfaction. Results also showed that when administrators at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings encouraged discussion about language of instruction, the likelihood of parent participation in these discussions increased. Language dominance and language proficiency testing of preschool aged ELLs, and representation of LPAC members at IEP meetings were major predictors of whether or not these children would receive referral to the bilingual or ESL programs in the future. Most of the results found in this study supported results found by Mueller, Singer, and Carranza in 2006. This study highlights research favoring the development of the primary language of ELLs in PPCD and Pre-K settings while underscoring the disconnect among teachers' beliefs, training, and instructional practices.