Special Education ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-13-2022


Research has shown that English learners with disabilities should have access to both special education and Title III services as required by law (de Valenzuela et al., 2006, 2018, 2016, 2022; de Valenzuela & Copeland, 2018; Kangas, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2021). This quantitative study uncovers issues of educational inequities related to: (a) the identification of these students as English learners; (b) their access to Title III services; and (c) the instructional settings in which they are educated for culturally and linguistically diverse students with Autism (ASD), Developmental Delay (DD), Intellectual Disability (ID), Multiple Disabilities (MD), or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Disaggregated student level data from a large school district in the southwest from the 2018-2019 school year was used for cross-tabulation comparisons using Pearson Chi-squared statistical test for association.

Results from this research suggested that parents of children identified with ASD, DD, ID, MD, or TBI were more likely to opt out of Title III services, English learners with a disability were less likely to be re-designated as fluent in English, English learners identified with ASD, ID, and MD were placed in the most segregated special education setting at a higher rate than students with other disabilities. Additional analyses suggested American Indian/Alaskan Native had the highest percentage of students identified with a disability compared to other race/ethnicity groups. Results suggested clear guidance from district documents on policies should be provided to schools so that federal laws and regulations are not misinterpreted by school administration and teachers.


culturally and linguistically diverse, disability, special education, English learner, language proficiency, complex support needs

Document Type




Degree Name

Special Education

Level of Degree


Department Name

Special Education

First Committee Member (Chair)

Julia Scherba de Valenzuela

Second Committee Member

Susan Copeland

Third Committee Member

Nancy López

Fourth Committee Member

Yen Kim Pham

Fifth Committee Member

Sunaina Shenoy