Date of Award

Summer July 2013

Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Magaly C. Lavadenz

Second Advisor

Marta E. Sanchez

Third Advisor

Robert Rueda


As the population of English Language Learners (ELLs) continues to grow in schools, so does the concern for their lack of academic progress and the possible inequitable representation of this culturally and linguistically diverse population in special education (Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, & Higareda, 2005; Guiberson, 2009; Mac Swan & Rolstad, 2006; Rinaldi & Samson, 2008). Of particular concern is the increase of ELLs with an eligibility of Specific Learning Disability (SLD), especially when examined at the local level (Klinger, Artiles, & Barletta, 2006). To understand this phenomenon at the local level, this mixed-method study examined ELLs with SLD in a large California urban school district by targeting English language development (ELD) at the macro and micro level. The researcher accomplished this focus by examining the relationship between English language proficiency levels, grade levels, and type of learning disorder among kindergarten through twelfth grade ELLs with SLD. The researcher analyzed cumulative educational records of three eighth grade ELLs with SLD, including Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs), to examine how ELD needs have been addressed. The results of the quantitative portion of this study revealed greater distribution patterns of ELLs with SLD in sixth through ninth grades. The researcher also found ELLs with SLD to be primarily represented in the early stages of ELD (beginning, early intermediate, and intermediate) and identified with an auditory processing disorder. Results of the case studies also revealed that after nine years of ELD instruction, the students had not reclassified as English proficient and documented evidence of ELD instruction and support was minimal.