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The role of context in the assessment of “unresponsiveness” within responsiveness-to-intervention: The “relative slope-difference discrepancy model” (RSDDM)

Literacy and Learning

ISBN: 978-1-84950-776-9, eISBN: 978-1-84950-777-6

Publication date: 22 February 2010


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the role of context in the identification of learning disabilities (LD) within the responsiveness-to-intervention (RTI) model. In Study 1, using a sample of students with and without LD (N=167) and data from a reading assessment, we tested whether the decision making regarding literacy disabilities is significantly different if we take into account variability within the schools and school characteristics. Initially a logistic multilevel model was fit to the data to assess prevalence rates of LD identification. The validity of these estimates was substantiated by bootstrapping the sample's parameters using 1,000 replications and by evidencing negligible bias parameters. Subsequently, the relationship between reading ability and LD identification was established by means of a multilevel model including random effects. The significant slopes linking reading to LD identification (i.e., fluency and overall reading ability ratings by teachers) were predicted by cross-level interactions involving schools' location (rural, urban, and suburban). The results of Study 1 demonstrated the moderating role of school context, as the slopes linking fluency and reading achievement to LD placement were moderated by the area in which a school was located. Study 2 was designed to present a relative discrepancy identification model by taking into account information from the school (i.e., district). Using 29 students from one district, whose writing ability was evaluated three times within the semester, comparisons were made between a specific low-ability student and the rest of his/her class. Through fitting a multilevel model in which within-student and between-student variance was assessed, Study 2 demonstrated that the specific pattern of responsiveness of a target student can be tested against the norm of his/her school district in order to have a more sensitive relative criterion of what constitutes both responsiveness and the norm. Thus, by utilizing a multilevel framework that involves school characteristics into our assessment we demonstrated that decision making is much more informative and likely more “accurate” under the RTI model. Certainly more research is needed to verify the usefulness and applicability of the proposed “relative slope-difference discrepancy model.”


Sideridis, G.D., Padeliadu, S. and Antoniou, F. (2010), "The role of context in the assessment of “unresponsiveness” within responsiveness-to-intervention: The “relative slope-difference discrepancy model” (RSDDM)", Scruggs, T.E. and Mastropieri, M.A. (Ed.) Literacy and Learning (Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Vol. 23), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 29-59.



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