Jim recently shared some material (on the CHC listserv) that he and his colleagues had developed in response to new regulations regarding the identification of children with specific learning disabilities (SLD). He received many "me to" requests for copies of the materials he was offering. IQ's Corner invited Jim to share his materials via a guest post and to ask Jim to become a regular guest blogger. He agreed!!!!!
Below are links to the two documents he was distributing. One is in the form of a pdf file (click here to view). The other is a PowerPoint show, which I've made available via Slideshare (click here to view). Below are Jim's comments. His colleagues are listed on the title slide of the PPT show.
- Federal and most state regulations have changed the critieria for identifying specific learning disabilities from the IQ/achievement discrepancy model to 1) response to intervention (RTI) and/or 2) a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in achievement or performance relative to age, state grade level standards, and intellectual development (PSW). School districts are struggling to interpret what PSW means. Some administrators wish to continue using the IQ/achievement discrepancy model and call it PSW. This ignores voluminous research evidence on the nature and the federal definition of learning disabilities, which define SLD as a weakness in one or more of the basic psychological processes. The reason for some districts' wish to continue with "business as usual" might be that district personnel are not familiar with the neurology of learning disabilities. If they are acquainted with cognitive science, they might still be daunted by the science's diversity of terms among researchers, its technological complexity, and its relation to effectiveness and ease in application across a wide variety of schools and school teams. The proposed reductionist model is based on models by several leading researchers in the field. It is designed as a first step in acquainting administrators with current cognitive science. It may also provide an acceptable research model until personnel can be trained in more expansive and technically adequate methods of identification. Interested persons are welcome to contact Jim Hanson atJaBrHanson@yahoo.com, or the Oregon School Psychologists Association for further questions and comments."
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How is this not a "wait to fail" model? A child can exhibit the pattern of strengths and weakness and struggle excessively in an area like spelling. If that child is extremely intelligent, even the areas of weakness, will be around average or slightly below-- not enough to qualify because they will do "fine" on state assessments. This model would seem to eliminate the possibility for help for gifted/ld children, and there is a vast body of research showing their needs. Plus, using state achievement tests is extremely suspect as they have been shown no to correlate with national testing.
While I do support the concept of gifted/LD children, I am confused regarding how a student can "struggle excessively" while at the same time have weaknesses "around average". Regardless of how intelligent a student is, a disability is contingent on some sort of impairment relative to the general population.
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