Review of State Policies and Guidance for the Identification of Culturally and Linguistically Minoritized Students With Specific Learning Disabilities

J Learn Disabil. 2024 Jan-Feb;57(1):3-15. doi: 10.1177/00222194231158070. Epub 2023 Mar 20.


The identification of specific learning disabilities (SLD) remains fraught with controversy and uncertainty about professionals' capacity to appropriately identify special education eligibility. For students from linguistically minoritized backgrounds, the exclusionary clause prohibits the identification of learning difficulties primarily attributable to contextual or linguistic factors. Yet the ambiguity of the federal language may hinder application, making critical states' interpretation and corresponding guidance for professional practice in eligibility determination. In this archival study, we systematically reviewed state departments' education policies and related guidance on the identification of multilingual learners with SLD, with a focus on how states have articulated policies and procedures related to the federal exclusionary clause. Our findings demonstrate variability and depth of information across states pertaining to guidance regarding the exclusionary clause. Implications for practice and policy are provided.

Keywords: bilingual; culture; exclusionary clause; multilingual learner; special education law; specific learning disability.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Language
  • Learning Disabilities*
  • Multilingualism*
  • Policy
  • Students