Unlocking Literacy: Key Strategies for ELLs with Disabilities
Dr. Elizabeth Horton and Dr. Jane Finn
The percentage of English language learners (ELLs) in American schools continues to boom. Although the population of students continues to shift in our nation, schools are not changing rapidly enough to keep up with the changing demographics. Research reports that approximately 56 percent of ELLs who receive special education services have reading deficits (Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Offices of English Language Acquisition, & National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2003). It is necessary to identify reading interventions that are effective in helping ELLs with disabilities and ELLs at risk for disabilities to improve in their reading abilities. The purpose of this current study was to conduct a meta-analytic review of the literature to identify interventions that were successful in teaching reading to at-risk ELLs and ELLs with disabilities. The findings of the meta-analysis revealed that the majority of research has centered on reading instruction at the primary and elementary level, and few studies address the needs of older, at-risk readers. The interventions with the highest effects focused on teaching basic reading skills such as phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, and fewer studies addressed reading comprehension. There is a need for more research on interventions that teach reading skills to ELLs with disabilities.
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