Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Yaoying Xu


This dissertation examines the question how do ESL teachers perceive the prereferral process for identifying adolescent Latino English language learners with specific learning disabilities? The study fits within the Latino Critical Race Theory framework and employs an interpretive phenomenological qualitative research approach. Participants were six secondary-level ESL teachers from two school districts with small ELL populations. Data consisted of in-depth interviews, researcher notes, and analytical memos. Phenomenological data analysis procedures followed recommendations by Colaizzi (1978) and Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009). Data validity measures included second-researcher review and member-checking. Results of the study are presented as descriptions of how participants perceived the prereferral processes for identifying adolescent Latino English language learners with suspected specific learning disabilities. Nine categories emerged from the interviews: (a) Characteristics and behaviors; (b) instructional supports and interventions; (c) progress-monitoring; (d) use of RTI; (e) prereferral outcomes; (f) parental participation; (g) special education department response; (h) identification challenges; and (i) recommendations. Implications of the study findings for policy, research, and educator practice are noted.


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Date of Submission

April 2012

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