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Discrepancy models and the meaning of learning disability

Technological Applications

ISBN: 978-0-76230-815-6, eISBN: 978-1-84950-119-4

Publication date: 30 October 2001


Problems and issues surrounding the use of discrepancy in identifying learning disability are reviewed. Since 1976, discrepancy has been the primary criterion for defining learning disability in practice. In a psychometric and statistical sense, however, issues about the best means for calculating a discrepancy remain unresolved. Another problem involves divergent findings about how systematically and rigorously the discrepancy criterion has been applied in practice. The problems and issues have resulted in questions about the status of learning disability as an independent category of special education. It is possible, however, to demonstrate that learning disability can be reliably differentiated from other conditions and that discrepancy is a major factor in demonstrating the differences. Consequently, it is concluded that discrepancy is a legitimate theoretical concept and should be considered as a necessary criterion for the identification of learning disability.


Kavale, K.A. and Forness, S.R. (2001), "Discrepancy models and the meaning of learning disability", Scruggs, T.E. and Mastropieri, M.A. (Ed.) Technological Applications (Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 187-235.



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