Begin Main Content Area

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. 

Scores from English assessments other than WIDA assessments may only be used as the basis for identification decisions if the score descriptors clearly define performance at or above the WIDA performance definition for level 5. If this performance definition by the other assessment is not clear, then screening using a WIDA instrument is necessary.

English Language Learners in Special Education

The PDE's Bureau of Special Education and Bureau of Teaching and Learning have developed published guidance documents and other resources that address the needs of ELs with disabilities. You can browse this library at the PaTTAN publications site