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Cristina Sanchez-Lopez

Cristina deeply enjoys her work with practitioners related to developing instruction, intervention and assessment for ELLs. In addition, she derives great satisfaction from teaching graduate courses for in-service teachers on biliteracy, assessment, and foundations of language minority education. Her tenure as a middle school bilingual teacher on a 6th grade team proved to be pivotal formative experience for Cristina.  She worked with others to plan instruction and teach in a way that took all students into account.  The team found ways to engage students at every level, to give each student access to the curriculum, to plan for high-level thinking, inquiry, and creativity.  Since then, Cristina has had the opportunity to collaborate with teachers, parents, administrators, and school/district-based teams across the U.S. and parts of Canada. Cristina believes that a fundamental cornerstone of her work is her ever-present focus on the strengths of those with whom she collaborates.




  • RTI/MTSS, Special Ed

  • Biliteracy 

  • Early Childhood, Middle School 

  • Language Development Standards

  • Family Engagement



  • Presenter, facilitator, and consultant/coach

  • Adjunct graduate level instructor and coordinator of adjunct instructors

  • Teacher, middle school bilingual

  • Co-chair, state bilingual education committees



  • M.S. Ed., Literacy Education, Northern Illinois University, 2013

  • Studies in Applied Linguistics, Universidad de las Américas, Puebla,  1990-1992

  • B.A., English, Political Science, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1986




Focus On Special Education Needs

​Focus on Special Educational Needs explores the characteristics of effective classroom instruction for language learners aged 5–18 with special educational needs. It guides teachers and other educational practitioners to combine their perspectives in providing balanced, coordinated, cohesive, and comprehensive approaches. The authors present a framework for developing inclusive learning environments which are culturally and linguistically responsive, based on strengths-based perspectives. Research studies and examples from the classroom illustrate collaborative practice in action. 

Sánchez-López, C. and Young, T. (2017). Focus On Special Education Needs. Oxford Key Concepts for the Language Classroom Series. Creat Claredon St., Oxford University Press

English Language Learners at School: A Guide for Administrators

A popular book, in its second edition, serves as a quick reference for administrators, teachers, and leadership teams, a wellspring of ideas from 71 experts for program development and improvement, and a framework for pre-service or in-service professional learning.  Cristina was invited to write about distinguishing between a language disability and a learning disability and appropriate Response to Intervention (RTI) for ELLs.

Hamayan, E. & Freeman Field, R. (Eds.). (2012, 2006). English language learners at school: A guide for administrators. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon, Inc.

Special Education Considerations for English Language Learners: Delivering a Continuum of Services

A veritable how-to guide for implementing Response to Intervention (RtI) and Multi-Tiers Systems of Support (MTSS) in a culturally and linguistically responsive manner.

Hamayan, E., Marler, B., Sánchez-López, C., & Damico, J. (2007, 2013). Special education considerations for English language learners: Delivering a continuum of services. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon, Inc.

Illinois State Board of Education Guidance Document: Illinois Special Education, Eligibility, and Entitlement Procedures and Criteria within a Response to Intervention (RTI) Framework.

Cristina worked with a committee of ten, the RTI and ELL Professional Practice Committee, to provide updates to the original document and statewide guidance related to ELLs and Special Education Eligibility and Entitlement within an RTI Framework.

RTI2: Developing a Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Approach to Instruction and Intervention for English Language Learners

Sánchez-López, C., Donnell, L., WIDA staff members, & WIDA Consortium Member State Project Contributors (2013). RtI 2: Developing a culturally and linguistically responsive approach to response to instruction and intervention (RtI2) for English language learners. Madison, WI: Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System (WIDA).

DUAL U – Dual Language Teacher Training Curriculum (2004)

An eight-module curriculum designed to assist elementary and secondary teachers and administrators in developing, implementing, and assessing dual language programs.

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