To Refer or Not to Refer: Untangling the Web of Diversity

Isaura Barrera

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Summary:

This article examines multiple sources of learning problems in young children within the context of appropriate and inappropriate referral to special education. Three sources of learning problems are identified: (1) unrecognized cultural/linguistic diversity; (2) deficits stemming from chronic poverty or trauma; and (3) disabilities. Similarities and differences between these are discussed, with an emphasis on distinguishing problems generated by disabilities from those generated by unrecognized diversity or deficits. Types of data that can help make this distinction are identified and include home language usage, relative language proficiency, levels of enculturation and acculturation (i.e., knowledge and skills necessary for participation in home and early childhood settings), schooling or child care history, participation in school lunch program, stability of living conditions, and evidence of family income. 

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Bibliographic Information:

Isaura Barrera. To Refer or Not to Refer: Untangling the Web of Diversity (1995). New York State Association for Bilingual Education: Staten Island, NY. (12 pages).

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(No longer available. )

New York State Association for Bilingual Education
Staten Island, NY
10306

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