Learning Disabilities: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with LD: Volume 24

Cover of Learning Disabilities: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with LD

Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Learning Disabilities are divided into two volumes: Volume 24, Identification, Assessment and Instruction of Students with LD, and Volume 25, Practice Concerns and Students with LD. Since the beginning of the field of learning disabilities (LD), professionals have argued and debated about what society accepts as normal learning patterns of children and youth in school environments. This situation has led to many approaches concerned with the identification, assessment, instruction, and clinical practices applied to students with LD. Unfortunately, some of these approaches were unwarranted, inappropriate, misguided, misinterpreted, over generalized, unneeded, and lacking in fidelity of treatment. In addition, some of the approaches did not take into consideration how treatment and instruction need to be modified as classrooms and school environments change regarding students with LD. Positively, special education LD professionals have gravitated toward the utilization of scientific and research-based analysis to evaluate past and current approaches. Such an approach produces greater fidelity of treatment as the LD knowledge base evolves. This is the emphasis that is used by chapter authors as they analyze and discern current perspectives and issues in identification, assessment, instruction, and practice of working with children and youth with LD.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, has exerted a profound influence on the education of students with disabilities. In 2004 major changes were made to the IDEA when it was amended in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act. The category of disabilities that was most profoundly affected by these changes may have been the category of learning disabilities. In this chapter we (a) review the development and major components of the IDEA, (b) explain the important changes in the 2004 amendments for the education of students with learning disabilities, focusing on two specific requirements, and (c) reflect on possible changes in future amendments to the IDEA.

Currently, students with learning disabilities make up the largest group of students receiving special education services across the country. To understand the themes and dimensions of learning disabilities, it is important to explore the historical progression of learning disabilities over time, including characteristics and outcomes of these students. This chapter will provide readers with in-depth information on the characteristics, national representation, demographics, and educational and long-term outcomes of students with learning disabilities.

It seems that assessment has almost always been a controversial issue when discussing students with learning disabilities. This chapter will first define learning disabilities with a discussion on the current federal definition, what a severe discrepancy is, the dimensions of a psychological processing disorder, and response to intervention. Then the focus will move toward assessment and how it impacts programming and placement for students with learning disabilities. Finally, the chapter will discuss monitoring daily performance. After reading this chapter the reader should have a better understanding of assessment and students with learning disabilities.

Students with learning disabilities are a large part of the population of students with disabilities as well as the total student body. In fact, for many students the general education classroom is where most of these students acquire their content knowledge. This, however, is not the only school placement in which students can receive services. This chapter will describe the historical perspectives regarding placement of students with learning disabilities. Next, it will compare the different instructional settings and interventions that have been effective for these individuals. The impact of the individualized education program will be discussed as well as controversial issues regarding the placement of these students. After reading this chapter readers will have a better understanding of placement issues surrounding students with learning disabilities.

Culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students often are not overtly aware of their cultures until they find themselves in a different one. The cultural capital students may have accumulated, at times, does not necessarily contextually match the culture of the classroom or school, possibly resulting in diminished returns academically and socially and an inability to acclimate to the dominant culture. The hope is that with time, all cultures will synthesize into one inclusive, nondominant culture that welcomes divergent thinking and behaviors. This chapter focuses on cultural capital and its possible effects in education, the identification of CLD students, and how interventions and responsiveness to intervention (RtI) may improve academic and social outcomes.

An increase (>150%) in the number of children experiencing learning difficulties is occurring due to changes influencing identification processes within our legislative mandates (Kavale, 2005; Kavale, Holdnack, & Mostert, 2005). There are also federal mandates that set the stage for our current practice changes, a specific learning disability (SLD) definition that has remained unchanged, and new initiatives steeped in older approaches that set the stage for complex interpretations (Kavale, 2005; Kavale & Forness, 2003). Can our current and past approaches foster the development of approaches which will better support our at-risk youth and their experience of learning disabilities? Pertinent questions are (a) who is this group of at-risk individuals? (b) what are the characteristics? (c) what approaches best support and deviate the path from a fully-fledged diagnoses of SLD? and (d) what approaches best support and identify the presence of SLD? This chapter will share the current landscape of practice for supporting students who are deemed at-risk for developing learning disabilities or school failure. The chapter explores the historical perspectives of identification and how they have influenced the change to the current initiative of response to intervention/instruction (RtI), its strengths, and its needs. Patterns across the pertinent issues are discussed.

The evaluation of minority children for special education by law should be nondiscriminatory. To be in compliance with federal mandates such as the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and Public Law 94-142, minority children who are also English language learners (ELLs) should be assessed in their native language or other appropriate mode of communication. During assessment, the child's language skills in terms of both Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) and Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) should be considered. Assessments like the Woodcock-Munoz and Student Oral Language Observation Matrix (SOLOM) can be used to determine the child's dominant language and proficiency in both their first (L1) and second (L2) languages. Models such as that proposed by Olvera and Gomez-Cerrillo (2011) which includes procedures for formal and informal assessments, as well as data collection and observation, can help guide a school psychologist or diagnostician when assessing a bilingual child. One main goal of this type of evaluation is to distinguish academic delays caused by a learning disability from those caused by a lack of proficiency in English. Cautions with respect to the testing of ELLs are highlighted.

In this chapter we discuss the essential components of special education for ELLs with learning disabilities. We focus on the importance of culturally responsive teachers implementing culturally and linguistically relevant instruction in all settings. Within this framework we emphasize the need for ELLs with LD to have a supportive classroom environment and essential English language instruction. The general education classroom can be a supportive environment for ELLs with LD by utilizing sheltered instruction techniques, specific accommodations and modifications, and reading comprehension instruction. We also consider how to support ELLs within the framework for common core curriculum standards, and finally we highlight some intensive interventions for ELLs with LD.

The use of differentiated instruction has increasingly become a part of the daily practices in classrooms across the country. This approach is important for many students with academic difficulties but can be particularly important for students with learning disabilities. Although differentiated instructional practices can have a positive impact on student learning, these strategies need to be implemented with fidelity to prove the most effective. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of the various components and strategies that teachers can use to differentiate their instruction for students with learning disabilities. These components include the classroom environment, student groupings, tiered instruction, collaboration and co-teaching, and student assessment procedures. Applied examples are provided through the use of a hypothetical classroom scenario.

This chapter presents an over-review of the related literature and describes current findings in learning disabilities. Specifically, a definition of learning disabilities (LD) is provided, followed by a description of the prognosis for students identified with LD, predictors of success, factors in coping, and the relationship of LD to behavior. Methodologies are presented to effectively train teachers in the use of research-validated methodologies, particularly in the area of positive behavior support (PBS). The authors also explain how a problem-solving process, embedded within the framework of school-wide PBS, can help children with learning disabilities increase their chances of achieving success over time and across a broad range of environments. Case studies and an application process are included to support and guide teachers in their implementation efforts.

Cover of Learning Disabilities: Identification, Assessment, and Instruction of Students with LD
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Advances in Special Education
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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