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Special Populations

Foreign Exchange Students

Foreign exchange students come to our country to experience the American culture and at the same time provide our students with the opportunity to learn from other cultures. The Pennsylvania Department of Education supports the educational and cultural values of these programs and encourages Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to participate and support these culturally enriching programs.

Districts are required to screen foreign exchange students using the state EL identification procedure. If foreign exchange students are identified as ELs, then they must:

  • Be placed with the districts language instruction educational program(LIEP) as appropriate based on their language proficiency,
  • Be included in PIMS and the English Learner Reporting System (ELRS) as ELs,
  • Participate in the annual state English language proficiency assessment (ACCESS for ELLs®), and
  • Participate in the PSSA/Keystone Exams. 

English Language Learners in Special Education

The PDE's Bureau of Special Education and Bureau of Teaching and Learning have developed guidelines regarding the identification and instruction of ELLs who may have disabilities.

These guidelines will address the role of ESL teachers, planning for the instructional program and making exit decisions for students with disabilities. Additional information regarding ELLs and special education is available in the Questions and answers regarding ELLs and Special Education