Minding the Gaps: Effectively Supporting Language Learners with Special Needs


  • Susan R. Adams Butler University
  • Britt Burns Hamilton Southeastern Schools




dually identified students, teacher collaboration, English language learners, K-12 teaching, special education, teacher preparation programs


This ethnographic case study grounded in constructivist approaches reveals the problems, gaps and challenges within one local K-12 school system that prevent consistent collaboration between teachers and specialists to appropriately and sufficiently support dually identified students. A dually identified student for the purpose of this research is defined as an English language learner who is also diagnosed with an identified disability. Qualitative data was collected to help answer the research question, “What conditions do classroom teachers, special education teachers, and English as a new language(ENL) teachers believe allow them to collaborate effectively to appropriately support dually identified students and their families?” Through analysis of semi structured interviews, the existing gaps, themes, and implications are identified in order to better support dually identified K-12 students and their families.

Author Biography

Britt Burns, Hamilton Southeastern Schools

Britt Burns, M.S., is an ENL educator in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools district. Her research interests include the intersections of special education and English as a New Language for English Language Learners and their families in K-12 schools.