Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Journal Coverage of Issues Related to English Language Learners across Student-Service Professions

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Journal Coverage of Issues Related to English Language Learners across Student-Service Professions

Article excerpt

Abstract. The number of students who are classified as English language learners (ELLs) is increasing within schools across the United States. Thus, it is important that school professionals have access to information regarding research-based assessment, prevention, and intervention practices that reflect the appropriate provision of services to this population. This study examined peer-reviewed articles published between 1995 and 2005 to explore the extent to which issues related to ELL students are examined in school psychology journals as compared to professional counseling, special education, and speech-language journals. Results revealed that each of the journals examined are publishing articles related to ELL students. The number and percentage of articles addressing issues related to ELL students in school psychology is relatively small (n = 113; 6.5%). Furthermore, the majority of the school psychology ELL articles had an incidental focus on ELL issues, and over 50% of these focused on assessment or eligibility issues.

The number of students classified as English language learners (ELLs) continues to increase dramatically within the school setting. For example, during the 2005--2006 academic year more than 10.7 million students spoke a language other than English at home, which represents approximately 20% of the entire student population (KewalRamani, Gilbertson, Fox, & Provasnik, 2007). Furthermore, more than 5 million of these students are classified and enrolled as ELL students in public schools throughout the United States, an increase of 84% from 1993 (Gottlieb, 2006) and 162% from 1979 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006). It is estimated that by the year 2030, 40% of the school population will speak English as a second language (U.S. Department of Education & National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2003). The increasing numbers of ELL students, combined with data indicating that these students experience elevated academic and psychosocial difficulties, suggest that there are significant issues that need the attention of researchers, educators, and student-service providers. Furthermore, numerous legal (e.g., Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, 2004; No Child Left Behind [NCLB] Act, 2002) and professional requirements (e.g., American Psychological Association, 1993, 2002a, 2002b; National Association of School Psychologists, 2000, 2006) provide an impetus to further enhance our understanding of how to improve the educational and psychosocial outcomes for these students.

The current article examines the extent to which ELL-related issues are being researched and published within professional, research-based journals directed toward student-service providers. An overview of the numerous issues facing ELL students and the need for school psychologists to recognize and address these issues is presented, followed by an examination of the extent to which school psychology journals are publishing research exploring ELL-related issues. In addition, articles published in journals from other disciplines related to student services, including professional counseling, speech-language, and special education, are examined. The rationale for including a review of published articles from these related disciplines is that service providers in these areas are essential in supporting the academic success, social-emotional health, and behavioral functioning of ELL students in schools. For example, in the school setting ELL students may work not only with school psychologists, but also with speech and language pathologists, special education teachers, and counselors, among others. Finally, the article concludes with a discussion of the results and corresponding implications, followed by recommendations for future research regarding the provision of services to ELL students.

Academic and Social-Emotional Difficulties Experienced by ELL Students

Public school records reveal that ELL students, as a group, attain the lowest academic achievement scores (e. …

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