English Learner Disability Resources

This section provides information on assessment and eligibility determination guidelines to special education professionals who work with English learners (ELs). These guidelines can be used where traditional evaluation procedures may not be appropriate and are based on specific aspects of diversity, such as race, culture, the acculturation process, high mobility among families and poverty rates.

For an online database of interpreters and translators, including names and contact information, languages spoken and written, education, specific training in interpretation and/or translation and previous experience as an interpreter or translator, see related resources on the right. For a copy of the ELL Companion to Reducing Bias in Special Education Evaluation manual, contact Elizabeth Watkins.

Effective Communication with English Learner Parents through an Interpreter
Interpreters and administrators from Robbinsdale, Minneapolis and St. Paul have recorded a webinar on “Effective Communication with English Learner Parents through an Interpreter.” The webinar features information on best practices in interpretation, choosing and working with interpreters, and culturally specific strategies for interacting with and interpreting for Spanish, Hmong and Somali speakers. View the webinar on the MDE Special Education Division Mediasite website.

English Learner Companion to Promoting Fair Evaluations
The English Learner Companion to Promoting Fair Evaluations provide guidance to school districts in the referral, evaluation and determination of special education eligibility for ELs with actual or suspected disabilities. These guidelines update the previous 2012 edition.

The guidelines are divided into 13 chapters, which may be opened and downloaded separately. Each chapter contains a table of contents, a chapter overview, a list of resources, references, and sample forms and templates. School districts may adapt the sample forms as needed to meet local needs. View the guidelines on this website; chapters will be posted as they become available.


  • 2019-20 University of Minnesota Courses for Interpreters Working in Special Education - 9/5/19
    Information regarding University of Minnesota courses for spoken language interpreters working in special education.
  •  - 1/15/19
    List of special education evaluation materials in languages other than English or recommended for English learners available for lending
  •  - 7/2/18
    Information gathered from interpreters working in Minnesota schools
  •  - 6/21/17
    Links to webinars on strategies for Response to Intervention (RtI), referral to special education and academic evaluation
  •  - 6/8/17
    Overview of MDE services
  • English-Somali Special Education Glossary - 9/13/16
    A Somali-language glossary of special education terms
  • Holding Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meetings with English Language Learner (ELL) Families and Interpreters - 8/15/16
  • Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice for Educational Interpreters of Spoken Language - 8/31/15
    What interpreters in educational settings should and should not do and ways of satisfying these ethical principles.
  • Alternate Instructions for Spanish Speech/Language Evaluation Instruments - 11/18/11
    CELF-3, PLS4, EOWPVT, and ROWPVT
  • English-Hmong Dictionary of Special Education - 11/18/11
    A glossary of special education terms in the Hmong language