Characteristics of Hispanic limited English proficient students referred for special education

Judy Rivera-Rodriguez, Fordham University


This study examined the characteristics of 46 Hispanic limited English proficient students (LEP) between the ages of 6 and 12 who were referred to or were participating in bilingual special education programs in a public school located in New York City. Specifically, the study investigated four broad categories: (a) referral, (b) language background, (c) assessment, and (d) the placement process of students referred for special education. The data used in the study were obtained from (a) background information, (b) school records, (c) demographic information, (d) results from the language tests, (e) results from the achievement tests, and (f) results of the Bender Gestalt Test. This study employed frequency distributions, correlation coefficients, and the McNemar test in order to analyze the data. The analysis of the data suggested that a substantial number of students were referred for reading and language factors. The greatest proportion of students had been in the United States less than 3 years, and an overwhelming majority used Spanish as their dominant language. A minimal number of interventions were tried prior to referral to special education. A substantial number of students had an inconsistent school experience. A significant number of students were delayed in both receptive and expressive language skills. The majority of the students on the educational evaluation demonstrated stronger conversational skills in Spanish. A majority of the students were delayed in reading in both languages but did well in mathematics. On the intelligence tests, the majority of the students appeared to be stronger in spanish. A third of the students scored higher on the Performance Scale. Almost 60% of the students demonstrated adequate and mildly delayed perceptual-motor skills. The largest proportion of students were classified as Learning Disabled and one third were found to be classified as Speech Impaired. As a related service, almost half of the students received speech and language services and two thirds received counseling services. The findings of the study suggest that Hispanic LEP students should be given more time within a bilingual program with additional services before being referred to special education.

Subject Area

Special education|Linguistics|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Rivera-Rodriguez, Judy, "Characteristics of Hispanic limited English proficient students referred for special education" (1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9631049.