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Effect of Teacher Characteristics on Intervention Teams Referrals for Preschool English Language Learners

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Maricarmen Macrina
Abstract:
There is a paucity of research investigating the relationship between teacher characteristics and the referral of English language learners (ELLs) to intervention teams (IT). This study investigated the relationships linking referrals of preschool ELLs with the teacher's perception of self-efficacy (SE), years of teaching experience, knowledge about second language acquisition, and beliefs as well as attitudes regarding ELLs. The number of ELL referrals to IT that do not qualify for special services underscores the need for increased research on the effect teachers have on the referral process. This cross-sectional study included a three-part survey sent to teachers in public schools, childcare private providers, or Head Start in one school district. The survey was returned by 97 of the 121 teachers and included the Exceptional Children who are English Learners (EXCEL) Inventory and the Content Area Teachers Survey (CATS). The survey, based on Bandura's self-efficacy theory, documented self-reported perceptions of characteristics related to teaching ELLs. A stepwise multiple regression identified a combination of knowledge, teaching experience, and attitudes regarding ELLs as the best combination of variables to predict ELL referrals. As noted by these results, a teacher's characteristics play an important role in the interpretation of screening results and subsequent referrals of ELLs. These findings can be used to inform professional development opportunities for teachers of ELLs. Social change will be facilitated through a better understanding of the effect teachers have on the referral process, thereby increasing meaningful screening of the abilities and disabilities of young ELLs.

Table of Contents

List of Tables

................................ ................................ .............................

………………iv

List of Figures

................................ ................................ .............................. ………………v

Section 1: Introduction to the Study

................................ ................................ .................... 1

Background of the Study

................................ ................................ ............................... 4

Justification of the Study

................................ ................................ ............................... 6

Proble m Statement

................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 7

Nature of the Study

................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 8

Purpose of the Study

................................ ................................ ................................ .... 10

Research Questions & Hypothesis

................................ ................................ ............... 10

Theoretical Framework

................................ ................................ ................................ 12

Definition of terms

................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 14

Assumptions

................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 16

Delimitations

................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 17

Limitations

................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 17

Significance of the Study

................................ ................................ ............................. 18

Social Change

................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 19

Summary

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 19

Section 2: Literature Review

................................ ................................ ............................. 21

Literature Related to Second Language Acquisition

................................ ................... 23

Second Language Acquisition …………………………………………………...

23

Timeline of SLA and Bilingualism ………………………………………………

25

English Language Learners ……………………………………………………… 26

English Language Learners

in Early Childhood…………………………………

26

Screenings and Referrals of Young Children

................................ .............................. 31

Screening and Referrals of Young ELLs ………………………………………...

32

New Jersey Preschool Screening and Referral Guidelines ………………………

36

Early Sc reening Inventory -

Revised (ESI - R) ……………………………………

37

Related Court Cases and Legislation

................................ ................................ ........... 38

English Language Learners ……………………………………………………… 38

Diana v. State Board of Education …………………………………………... 39

Lau v Nichols.

……………………………………………………………….. 39

No Child Left Behind. ……………………………………………………….. 39

Preschool Age Students

…………………………………………………………. 40

Mills v. Board Of Ed ucation of Distric t of Columbia..

……………………... 40

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

………………………………… 41

Abbott v. Burke ……………………………………………………………… 41

Literature related to Self - efficacy Theory

................................ ................................ .... 42

Teacher Self - efficacy and Content Knowledge …………………………………. 43

ii

Self - efficacy, General Education T eachers, and Difficult to Teach Students …… 44

Students with learning disabilities …………………………………………...

45

Students from different cultural backgrounds ……………………………….

46

Students who speak a language other than English ………………………….

47

Self - efficacy in Teachers of Preschool ELLs ……………………………………

50

Years of Experience and Attitudes Regarding ELLs

................................ ................... 52

Literature Related to Methodology

................................ ................................ .............. 54

Summary

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 56

Section 3: Research Method

................................ ................................ .............................. 58

Study Design

................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 58

Setting

................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 62

Criteria for Selecting Participants

................................ ................................ ................ 62

Population

……………………………………………………………………….. 62

Sample …………………………………………………………………………… 62

Instrumentation

................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 64

Exceptional Children who are English Learners (EXCEL) Inventory

………….. 64

Content - Area Teacher Survey (CATS) ………………………………………….. 66

Demographic and Background Information

…………………………………… 66

Data Collection

................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 67

Data Analysis

................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 68

Role of the Researcher in Data Collection and Analysis

………………………... 70

Measure of Ethical Protection …………………………………………………… 70

Summary

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 72

Section 4: Data Analyses

................................ ................................ ................................ ... 73

Research Questions

................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 73

Research Tools

................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 74

Return Rate of Questionnaires

…………………………………………………... 74

Demographic Data

………………………………………………………………. 75

Results by Research Question

................................ ................................ ...................... 79

Self - efficacy and Referrals of ELLs

................................ ................................ ............ 79

Years of Teaching Experience and English Language Learners Referrals ……… 80

Knowledge of Second Language Acquisition and Referrals of ELLs

…………... 81

Attitudes Regarding ELLs and ELLs Referrals

…………………………………. 83

Beliefs regarding ELLs and ELLs Referrals …………………………………….. 83

Combination of Variables that Best Predicts ELL Referrals

……………………. 84

Summary

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 86

Section 5: Findings, Implications for Social Change and Recommendations

................... 88

Overview

................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 88

Interpretation of Findings

................................ ................................ ............................ 90

Research Question 1

…………………………………………………………….. 90

iii

Research Question 2

…………………………………………………………….. 91

Research Question 3

…………………………………………………………….. 92

Research Question 4

…………………………………………………………….. 93

Research Question 5

…………………………………………………………….. 94

Research Question 6

…………………………………………………………….. 95

Practical Applications

................................ ................................ ................................ .. 95

Implications for Social Change

................................ ................................ .................... 97

Recommendations

................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 99

Conclusion

................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 100

References

................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 102

Appendix

A : P e r mission to Use EXCEL Instrument

................................ ..................... 118

Appendix

B : Exceptional Children who are English Learners (EXCEL

......................... 1 19

Appendix

C : Permission to Use CATS

................................ ................................ ............ 12 0

Appendix

D : Content - Area Teacher Survey (CATS)

................................ ...................... 12 1

Appendix

E : Demographic/Background Questions

................................ ......................... 1 25

Appendix

F : Data Use Agreement

................................ ................................ ................... 1 27

Appendix G: ABC School District Approval to Conduct Study

................................ ..... 1 29

Appendix H: Letter of Cooperation

................................ ................................ ................. 13 0

Appendix I : Invitation to Participate Letter

................................ ................................ ..... 13 1

Appendix

J : Consent Form

................................ ................................ .............................. 1 32

Appendix K : Hypotheses, Variables, and Survey Item by Research Question

............... 1 3 4

Curriculum Vitae

................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 136

iv

List of Tables

Table 1. Percentage of Teachers Ye ars of Experience

................................ .....................

7 6

Table 2.

Range, Means & Standard Deviations for ELL Referrals…..… …… ……… .. … 7 8

Table 3. Percentage of English language Learners Referred in 2009

...............................

79

Table 4.

Linear Regression Analysis for Referrals by Self - efficacy

................................

8 0

Table 5.

Linear Regression Analysis for Referrals by Years of Experience

....................

8 1

Table 6.

Linear Regression Analysis for Referrals

by Knowldege

................................ .

8 2

Table 7. Linear Regression Analysis for Referrals by Attitudes and

...............................

8 3

Table 8. Linear Regression Analysis for Beliefs and

Referrals

................................ ........

8 4

Table 9. Stepwise Multiple Regression:Variables allowed in the Model

.........................

8 5

Table 10.Stepwise Multiple Regression Analysis

................................ ............................

8 6

v

List of Figures

Figure 1:

Ethnic Background of Participants

................................ ................................ ....

7 7

Figure 2:

Relationship between Knowledge of SLA and Referrals

................................ ..

8 2

1

Section 1: Introduction to the Study

Teachers of English language learners (ELLs) in preschool (PK) settings face challenges related to the developmental and the linguistic needs of this understudied group of students. Although much progress has been achieved to protect the educational rights

of ELLs, the American educational system may still be overlooking the effect that teachers have on the learning opportunities provided to these students. For example, according to Paneque and Barbetta (2006), inexperienced teachers or teachers with a low perception of self - efficacy (SE) often regard themselves as unable to meet the needs of ELL students. Even more experienced teachers may feel inadequate if expected to recognize and address the needs of ELLs (Abedi, 2005, 2008; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 20 10 . T herefore, it is important to investigate the effect that teachers‘ perception of SE, years of experience, knowledge about second language acquisition, beliefs, and attitudes regarding ELLs may have on the referral of PK ELL students to intervention teams ( IT).

ELLs are the fastest growing group of students in the United States (National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition [NCELA], 2009; Reeves, 2006). As reported by the NCELA (2009), the number of ELLs enrolled in U.S. public schools system has

increased by 44%

in the last decade. For teachers of ELLs, this rapid increase represents new challenges.

For example, it is well documented in the literature that the complexities of assessing student‘s cognitive and developmental levels increase when a second language is factored in the assessment process (Abedi, 2006; Abedi & Gandara

2006). Moreover,

according to Gandara, Rumberg , Maxwell - Jolly, and Callahan (2003), teachers of ELLs are more likely to have little classroom experience and inappropriate

2

credentials. Notwithstanding

those challenges, teachers are expected to interact, assess abilities, and address the needs of the in creasing ELL population.

The criterion under study was the number of ELL students ,

age 3 years referred to IT. The setting was PK classrooms in schools, Head Start programs, and private providers. The goal of the study was to investigate the relationship between that criterion and the following five teacher - related independent variables: years of teaching experience, perception of SE, knowledge of SLA, attitudes regarding ELLs, and beliefs about ELLs. To investigate the relationship between the five teache r - related independent variables and the criterion of the frequency of referrals of PK - ELLs to IT, a cross - sectional survey was completed. I also examined district‘s records, and reviewed literature within the fields of psychology, SLA, screening, and child

development.

In the field of psychology I examined Bandura‘s (197 7 ,

1986 ,

1995) theory of self - efficacy. Furthermore, I reviewed literature on the fields of SLA (August & Shanahan, 2006; Grosjean, 2008; Lantolf & Thorne, 2006;

Yip & Mathews, 2007) and ch ild development (National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 2005). Base on the theory of self - efficacy, the study of SE must be connected to content knowledge ( Çakiroğlu, Çakiroğlu & Boone, 2005; Cone, 2009). In other words, positive

or negative perceptions of their ability to screen ELLs are linked to the teachers understanding of the principles of child development and SLA.

The literature about SLA and about the challenges of assessing ELLs is extensive (Abedi, 2005, Abedi & Ganda ra, 2006; Barrera, 2006; Klingner, Artiles, & Mendez - Barletta, 2006; Klingner & Harry, 2006). The researchers have found that the

3

infrastructure for collecting data about ELLs remains weak. For example, Klingner and Harry (2006) found that ―student‘s appar ent English fluency seems to have the effect of masking the need for a native language assessment and lulling educators into thinking they are justified in focusing on English test results‖ (p. 2248). Furthermore, Abedi (2005) and Macswan and Rolstad (2006 ) have brought into question the fairness and validity of the collection of data from ELLs by naming irregularities in the definition of ELLs, the validity of home language surveys, and the conceptual frames of English language proficiency tests. One examp le of the weak infrastructure is the reliance of undependable language surveys commonly used to identify native language of students.

Another example of the weak infrastructure available for ELLs is the current language assessment policies and poor langua ge tests (Macswan & Rolstad, 2006). The researchers looked at six native language assessment tests and argued that the development of the assessments was based on a deficit approach that conceives an inherent inferiority of some language varieties. In othe r words, the researcher argued that these assessments improperly posit language deficiencies as evidence of limited intellectual abilities Furthermore, they questioned and showed evidence against the accuracy with which these test measure true language abi lities.

The possibility that educators, administrators, and policy makers may be overlooking these factors is troublesome for an educational system with an exponential growth in the ELLs population. Approximately 20% of children between the ages of 5 to 1 7 years speak a language other than English and an additional 8.7% speak English with difficulty (National Center for Education Statistics [NCES], 2007, 2008; U.S. Census

4

Bureau, 2007; Verdugo

& Flores,

2007). Teachers cannot rely on outsiders, such as res ource teachers or teachers with special education certification, to take responsibility for the educational needs of an ever increasing population. Instead, teachers need to understand the correlation between different teachers‘ characteristics, the educat ional decisions teachers make about their students, and the opportunities they provide ELLs.

Background of the Study

For the past 4 years, members from the ABC school district‘s teachers, PK intervention teams (PIRT) and the child study teams (CST) have e xpressed concerns about the timeline for administering the Early Screening Inventory -

Revised (ESI - R) and about the efficiency and efficacy of the referral process (C. Scott & M. Pagan, personal communication, 2010).

A shared concern was

that m any of the s tudents referred were

ELLs whose communicative difficulties are related to the time of the screening, the process

of acquiring a second language,

and

the teachers ‘

misleading perception of the screening and the acquisition process.

Both PIRT and CST serve as resource to the teachers and are involved with the ESI - R. On one hand, PIRT works with teachers on strategies to avoid unnecessary referrals to CST.

In another regard , CST assesses students referred to them by teachers, parents, and other agencies.

The

main concern of both teams was that according to the guidelines described in the New Jersey Administrative Code

(New Jersey

Administrative Code 6A:13A [ NJAC ],

2008), students who score low in the ESI - R had to be referred to CST without intervention from P IRT. Furthermore, the timeline for screening that did not adjust to the fact of ELLs SLA process was also of concern. Research has shown that although the

5

stages of acquisition are similar in the first and second languages, SLA is more complex and stressfu l (Krashen, 1985; Lantolf & Thorne, 2006; McLaughlin & Harrington, 1989). Concerns about (a) adjusting screening and referral timeline to consider SLA, (b) the effect of teachers on students‘ achievements, and (c) the findings of available literature justify this study. In section 2, the literature about the pros and cons of early screening for ELLs is discussed.

Teachers refer students to CST for suspected developme ntal delays as determined by their interpretation of the results of the ESI - R screening tool. The ESI - R and the procedures for its administration are required as part of the New Jersey

Department of Education (NJDOE) guidelines for PK (2010). According to these guidelines, teachers are required to screen all children age 3 years using a 15 - minute

psychometric tool to determine possible developmental delays ( Meisels, Mardsden, Stone, & Henderson , 2003). The ESI - R tool was standardized with monolingual studen ts of English and later translated situation teachers observe and interpret students‘ performance to be on target or suggestive of a developmental delay. In the case of ELLs, teachers would have to also distinguish between possible developmental delays or typical behaviors of the second language acquisition process. The number of ELLs experiencing SLA referred to IT for suspected developmental delays suggests that the referrals may be influenced by teachers‘ characteristics.

Policy makers in New Jersey may

have failed to recognize that the variety of languages and cultural traditions of ELLs affect how these students initially behave in the school setting (Gandara, Maxwell - Jolly, & Driscoll, 2005) and how the teachers react to

6

those behaviors (Paneque & Bar betta, 2006). For example, students may not respond at all or they may respond to questions with unrelated responses. Although these behaviors may appear to be symptomatic of language or cognitive delay, they may also be part of the natural progression of SLA. Furthermore, according to research and seminal studies (Paneque & Barbetta, 2006; Podell & Soodak, 1993), teachers‘ perception of SE affects the referral rate of ELLs. If teachers are not able to consider cultural and linguistic differences, it is pos sible to refer a child for intensive testing when the student mostly needs support to adjust to the new linguistic and cultural setting. In spite the challenges associated with screening ELLs, and notwithstanding the negative reactions that the practice ha s raised among practitioners, NJDOE representatives insist that screening and referral of ELLs to CST must continue (E. Vaughn, personal communication, May 2006).

Justification of the Study

Few studies were found that investigate relationships between tea cher characteristics and ELLs referrals (Paneque & Barbetta, 2006; Soodka & Podell, 1994). Furthermore, no studies were found that investigated referrals by teachers of PK - ELLs. Instead, most studies available focused on environmental or students‘ variabl es related to ELLs referrals (Artiles, Rueda, Salazar, & Higareda, 2005; Gandara et al., 2005; Leseaux, Geva, Koda, Siegel, & Shanahan, 2008). The limited number of studies in the area of ELL referrals in PK justified the need for this study.

Of the studie s investigating teacher‘s characteristics as predictors of referrals, a large number have focused on teachers‘ SE (Paneque & Barbetta, 2006) and on the relationship of SE on job satisfaction (Moe, Pazzaglia, & Ronconi, 20 10;

Mueller, Singer

7

& Carranza, 200 6; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010 ). Others have focused on the difficulties associated with differentiating between second language fluency and language disability (Klingner & Harry, 2006; Klingner, Artiles, & Mendez, 2006; Wilkinson, Ortiz, Robertson, & Kushne r, 2006 ). In other studies, researchers have found knowledge about second language acquisition as predictor of the educational opportunities teachers offer to ELLs (Abedi, 2005; Abedi & Gandara, 2006; Barrera, 2006; Garcia & Cuellar, 2006; Leseaux et al., 2008). The consensus among these researchers suggested that teachers are part of the infrastructure that needs to be further studied and that is still weak in its ability to collect data about ELLs.

Problem Statement

Previous research citations are eviden ce of the need for studies that explore the relationship between teachers‘ characteristics and the referral of PK - ELLs. In this study I further investigated the relationship between the criterion of the number of referrals of preschool ELLs to IT and the f ollowing independent variables: years of teaching experience, knowledge about SLA, perception of SE, beliefs regarding ELLs, and attitudes regarding ELLs.

On average, teachers in the ABC school districts refer more ELL students than monolingual English sp eaking students to intervention groups (ABC Public Schools District, 2009). For example, according to a PK participating list dated October 6, 2009, ELLs represented 23% of all PK students enrolled in the ABC PK program. A nother report showed that ELLs acc ounted for 55% of all PK students referred to CST as a result of the ESI - R screening (PIRT Status Report, 2009). Furthermore, CST members often

8

rejected these referrals after they had determined that these students were going through a phase of SLA and did

not have a learning disability. The determinations were made during CST meetings and after the parents had been informed of possible learning disability. It is a problem that teachers of PK ELLs may have been using the referral process to address their ow n limitations and perceptions.

Nature of the Study

Based on the nature of the inquiry and on the criterion to be studied, I determined that a quantitative paradigm utilizing data collected from a cross - sectional survey and demographic questions was the be st design for this study. The survey was cross - sectional with the data collected once during the 2010/2011 school year. According to two seminal studies (Fra e nkel & Wallen, 2003; Fink 2006) , survey research has the potential to provide researchers informat ion from a large sample of individuals to the population. Furthermore, research include accuracy, convenience, and ease of administration as some of the strengths of survey research (Fink 2006). The survey was the preferred type of data collection because my goal was to use data collected at one time to determine relationships between a criterion and characteristics of teacher - participants.

Examining relationships between the dependent or criterion variable and independent or predictor variables is better accomplished through structured research that is accurate and easy to administer ( Fra e nkel &

Wallen, 2003). The purpose of this cross - sectional survey study was to investigate the correlation between the number of ELLs referrals and five independent variab les. The theoretical framework for this study was Bandura‘s (1977) theory of self - efficacy and MacWhinney ‘s (2002) model of SLA. The

9

framework will be used to test the hypotheses about relationships between the number of referral of ELLs‘ criterion and tea chers‘ characteristics.

Quantitative data was collected using a survey that combined four demographic questions, four background questions, and two copy written instruments. Paneque‘s

(2004) provided permission to copy and use (Appendix A) the Exceptional Children who are English Language Learners (EXCEL) inventory (Appendix B). Permission (Appendix C) was provided by Garcia‘s (2010) to use and copy the survey Content - Area Teacher Surv ey (Appendix D).

The EXCEL 20 - item inventory was

answered using 9 - point Likert scale. The 33 items in the CATS survey were answered using a 5 - point Likert scale . The criterion for selecting participants was teaching in inclusive an inclusive PK setting du ring the 2009/2010 school year .

The possible sample consisted of 151 teachers. Furthermore, the data was analyzed through multiple regression analysis.

As the researcher, I had an active role in the analysis of the data but not in the collection process. By removing myself from the collection process I limited any influence I may have had in the participants‘ responses. Before collecting any data I requested, and had approval from the institutional review board (IRB) of Walden University, the ABC School D istrict, the schools‘ principals, and the directors from Head Start and private PKs. More detailed information about the measures that were implemented to avoid threats to the validity of the study is explained in section 3. In section 3 I detailed informa tion about the data collection instrument and the process for developing the method for collection and analysis of data is explained.

10

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between the number of ELLs referred to IT and the following five teacher - related characteristics: years of teaching experience, knowledge about SLA, perception of SE, beliefs about ELLs, in addition to attitudes regarding ELLs. The framework for studying this relationship will be Bandura‘s (1995) theory of self - efficacy. The dependent variable is defined as the frequency of referral of ELLs to IT. This descriptive and inferential analysis will seek correlations between rate of referrals and teachers‘ characteristics. This study may provide informat ion that will make it possible to identify which teacher related variables may be contributing to the referral of ELLs.

The findings are an additional resource for teachers interested in reflecting upon the accuracy of the referral process and on the effe ct they have in this process. Furthermore, most research related to ELLs focus on children age 5 years and older. This study begins to address the impact that teachers of ELLs have in the referral process of PK age students. Furthermore, the gap in the lit erature has been addressed, as this study focused on teachers of ELLs in PK.

Research Questions & Hypothesis

Listing the research questions serves as a means of stating the direction of the study (Creswell, 2009). The following research questions were inv estigated in this study:

1.

Is there a positive relationship between teachers‘ SE and the number of ELLs referred to IT?

11

H O 1 :

There is no positive relationship between the teachers‘ perceptions of SE and the number of ELLs they refer to IT.

H 1 1 :

There is a positive relationship between the teachers‘ perceptions of SE and the number of ELLs they refer to IT.

2.

Is there a positive relationship between teaching years of experience and the number of ELLs referred to IT?

H O 2 :

There is no positive relati onship between the years of experience of teachers of ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT .

H 1 2 :

There is a positive relationship between the years of experience of teachers of ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT .

3.

Is there a positive relations hip between the teachers‘ knowledge of second language acquisition and the number of ELLs referred to IT?

H O 3 :

There is no positive relationship between the teacher‘s knowledge about SLA and the number of ELLs referred to IT.

H 1 3 :

There is a positive re lationship between the teacher‘s knowledge about SLA and the number of ELLs referred to IT.

4.

Is there a positive relationship between teachers‘ attitudes regarding ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT?

H O 4 :

There is no positive relationship between the teacher‘s attitudes regarding ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT.

H 1 4 :

There is a positive relationship between the teacher‘s attitudes regarding ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT.

12

5.

Is there a

positive relationship between teachers‘ beliefs regarding ELLs and the number of ELLs they refer to IT?

H O 5 : There is no positive relationship between the teacher‘s beliefs regarding ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT.

H 1 5 : There is a positive relationship between the teacher‘s beliefs regarding ELLs and the number of ELLs referred to IT.

6.

Which combination of independent variables best predicts the number of ELLs referrals to IT?

H O 6 : There is no combination of independent variables that best predicts the number of ELLs referred to IT.

H 1 6 : There is a combination of independent variables that best predicts the number of ELLs referred to IT.

Full document contains 150 pages
Abstract: There is a paucity of research investigating the relationship between teacher characteristics and the referral of English language learners (ELLs) to intervention teams (IT). This study investigated the relationships linking referrals of preschool ELLs with the teacher's perception of self-efficacy (SE), years of teaching experience, knowledge about second language acquisition, and beliefs as well as attitudes regarding ELLs. The number of ELL referrals to IT that do not qualify for special services underscores the need for increased research on the effect teachers have on the referral process. This cross-sectional study included a three-part survey sent to teachers in public schools, childcare private providers, or Head Start in one school district. The survey was returned by 97 of the 121 teachers and included the Exceptional Children who are English Learners (EXCEL) Inventory and the Content Area Teachers Survey (CATS). The survey, based on Bandura's self-efficacy theory, documented self-reported perceptions of characteristics related to teaching ELLs. A stepwise multiple regression identified a combination of knowledge, teaching experience, and attitudes regarding ELLs as the best combination of variables to predict ELL referrals. As noted by these results, a teacher's characteristics play an important role in the interpretation of screening results and subsequent referrals of ELLs. These findings can be used to inform professional development opportunities for teachers of ELLs. Social change will be facilitated through a better understanding of the effect teachers have on the referral process, thereby increasing meaningful screening of the abilities and disabilities of young ELLs.