Language Policy

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 567–589 | Cite as

Reclassification of emergent bilinguals with disabilities: the intersectionality of improbabilities

  • Jamie L. Schissel
  • Sara E. N. Kangas
Original Paper


In the context of the United States K-12 school system, reclassification processes of emergent bilinguals are laden with high-stakes assessments. Largely absent in reclassification scholarship is the consideration of how reclassification policies uniquely affect those learners with identified disabilities. Applying an intersectionality lens that foregrounds political and structural critique, we conducted an interpretive policy analysis of reclassification policies in two states, New Mexico and California. In the analysis, we examined the coalescence of federal and state policies governing reclassification procedures along with assessment designs and practices as they impact the educational realities of emergent bilinguals with disabilities. The analysis illuminated how existing policies and practices marginalize emergent bilinguals with disabilities by making reclassification improbable for students with intersecting disability and second language acquisition needs. We argue that the unlikelihood of being reclassified as Fluent-English Proficient has profound educational consequences for emergent bilinguals, who over time may become disproportionately represented in both special education as well as the long-term English learner population in schools.


Assessment Emergent bilinguals Language education policy Reclassification Students with disabilities 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TESOLUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.College of EducationLehigh UniversityBethlehemUSA

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