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Kangas Awarded Spencer Foundation Grant

Friday, July 31, 2020 - 8:15am

Dr. Sara Kangas, assistant professor in Lehigh's Special Education program, is the recipient of a Small Research Grant from the Spencer Foundation. The project is funded ($40,766) for one year and focuses on the barriers English learners with disabilities experience on their journey to reclassification. The title of the funded project is "When English Learners with Disabilities Become Long-Term English Learners."

More about the Research

In the United States K-12 school system, English learner (EL) is supposed to be a temporary designation, an institutional label that disappears once students become English-proficient.  Yet, in recent years, research has found that some ELs, particularly those with disabilities, never get reclassified as English-proficient students and thus, often become long-term ELs (LTELs).  This multi-sited ethnography will investigate the structural inequalities that prevent ELs with disabilities from being reclassified as English-proficient.  This study will examine the interplay of macro policy- and school-level factors inhibiting the reclassification of 25 ELs with disabilities in three different districts.  Applying an intersectionality lens, this study seeks to shed light on a critical equity issue, as LTEL status is accompanied by restricted opportunities to learn.

"As many of you know, The Spencer Foundation grants are competitive and challenging to obtain and so this is a very noteworthy achievement for Dr. Kangas and Lehigh's College of Education." 

Dr. George DuPaul, Associate Dean for Research

More about Sara Kangas

As an applied linguist, Dr. Kangas researches the educational experiences of English learners (ELs) with disabilities.  Focusing on K-12 contexts, she is particularly interested in understanding how schools can create learning environments that support both the linguistic and academic needs of these learners.  Dr. Kangas’ research also examines how educational equity for ELs with disabilities intersects with language policies and institutional structures. 

For more information about Dr. Kangas’ research, please visit: http://www.sarakangas.com

Research Focus: 
English Learners
Language and Cognition
Language Development
Field of Expertise: 
Learning and development
Special Education