Supporting English Language Learners - Differentiating Language Differences from Suspected Disabilities (Virginia Department of Education, VDOE)


The intended audience for this document is school teams that support an English Learner (EL) having difficulty engaging in learning activities, and suspect the EL may have a disability. The purpose of this document is to assist teams in understanding languange learning and cultural influences and the multiple factors potentially affecting EL progress.

  • Gather a School Team for the Pre-Referral Process
  • Build the Professional Knowledge of the School Team and Discuss
  • Consider Factors that Influence Learning Other Than a Disability
  • Differentiate Primary Language and Cultural Influences from Indicators of Disability


Assessment Behavior Curriculum/Instructional Methods English Learners (ELs) Instructional Strategies Professional Resources