Posted on 10/23/2012 at 07:29 AM by Global Reach

Each school building and/or district is somewhat unique in the way it assists students who may be displaying difficulties with learning academic material with regards to ELLs.  Typically, most schools have a SAT (Student Assistance Team) or a BAT (Building Assistance Team) that meets weekly to problem-solve with the intentions to meet the needs of struggling students. According to the Iowa Department of Education, “The SAT is a school team, which includes the parent and the students, when appropriate, in a positive, problem solving, intervention process. It assists students by ensuring that the school and community are doing everything possible to make students’ school lives successful.” The SAT team may identify concerns with an ELL student. The SAT team can work together to identify accommodations and interventions that may be appropriate for an English Language Learner. 

The RTI+I framework should be used to identify the ELL student’s needs when they are brought to SAT. The team will discuss possible accommodations, any necessary modifications to the student’s work, and a student may be placed in an intervention. The intervention should be conducted with fidelity and should be provided by a qualified teacher (i.e., ESL endorsement, etc).  During this process data should be collected on a continuous basis. Based on the school/district’s policy, the data should be reviewed and analyzed. If the student continues to struggle, the SAT team may determine that additional services are needed (i.e., this is after all other options are exhausted.) A student who is identified as ELL may be eligible for an IEP (Individualized Education Program). If all the necessary data leads the team to qualifying a student then they may be considered ELL + a disability. This entitles the student to not only specially designed instruction through an IEP, but to remain receiving ESL services as well. Yes, both services! Additionally, an ELL student may not qualify for an IEP, but they may qualify for a 504 Accommodation Plan. This would entitle the student to specific accommodations (i.e., seating, tests to be read orally, etc). And, once again, the student may receive these accommodations simultaneously with ESL services.

Although this is a lot to fulfill; each student deserves the best. For more information on Iowa’s – Iowa Code 280.4 – visit the Department of Education’s website at

Additionally, please make note that the Iowa Culture and Language Conference is just right around the corner. The dates for the conference are November 12-14 in Coralville, Iowa!

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