Learning Disabilities: Practice Concerns And Students With LD: Volume 25

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Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Learning Disabilities are divided into two volumes: Volume 24, Identification, Assessment and Instruction of Students with LD, and this book, 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 field of learning disabilities has been greatly influenced by both legal and policy decisions throughout its relatively short history. This chapter presents an overview of the historical analysis of learning disabilities and inclusion to provide a context for the present. An analysis of the studies conducted examining effects of inclusive interventions with students with learning disabilities is provided. Finally, predictions for the future of learning disabilities and inclusion are made based on the historical analysis and literature reviewed. Implications for educators, policy, and practice are made.

Students with learning disabilities characteristically demonstrate unexpected underachievement and continued learning challenges in spite of appropriate instruction. Because reading is fundamental to competency of all future endeavors, reading interventions have been the focus of considerable public and professional attention. Intensive interventions that reflect students’ cognitive processing challenges, address the need for feedback, and take into consideration the learning environment have been associated with improved student learning outcomes.

While elementary and secondary struggling readers differ, the targeted reading skills are the same. At all levels, fundamental skills such as phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary knowledge, and comprehension are crucial to reading success. At the elementary level, phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle are best taught through direct and explicit instruction; vocabulary instruction emphasizes word recognition. Fluency problems can be addressed through such activities as repeated or timed readings.

As students progress to the secondary levels, vocabulary demands become increasingly related to content acquisition, and a combination of generative and non-generative approaches to vocabulary instruction is recommended. At the secondary level, fluency practice is best coupled with comprehension instruction, which can include the explicit teaching of strategies and opportunities for students to work collaboratively. While there are no simple solutions to the challenges experienced by struggling learners, appropriate, differentiated, and intensive interventions can increase the likelihood of improved learning outcomes for these students.

Writing, as a critical academic skill, is receiving national attention – joining the ranks of reading, mathematics, and science. The focus on increased writing performance standards for all students has implications for students with learning disabilities (LD), as these students are most likely to struggle with basic writing skills, and with expressing their ideas and demonstrating knowledge through written expression. Fortunately, research-based practices have been established for teaching students with LD across writing dimensions. In this chapter, instructional approaches for writing instruction, and current and future trends for addressing standards, are described.

We conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on mathematical interventions for secondary students with learning disabilities (LD) and the identified studies were analyzed in light of the mathematical practices as outlined by the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI, 2010). Results indicated that Standard 2, reason abstractly and quantitatively, was the most common practice addressed. Furthermore, the studies that examined the effects of Enhanced Anchored Instruction (EAI) contained the most practice standards of the studies reviewed. However, the majority of studies provided evidence of addressing only one practice standard. It is recommended that future studies need to address these standards and/or be more explicit in the inclusion of the standards.

Social skills training (SST) is increasingly used as an adjunct to academic interventions for children and youth with learning disabilities (LD). A brief context and an overview of SST are provided and the issue related to the establishment of SST efficacy via extant meta-analyses is described. Generally, outcomes for SST efficacy are mixed, at best, with very little evidence of strong efficacy effects across the literature.

Response to Intervention (RtI) is a systematic approach that provides a framework for addressing student learning, allows for accountable decision-making based upon the individual skill level of each student, and gives schools a methodical way for special education determinations. RtI began as a framework for students suspected of having a learning disability and now has become a system of instruction and assessment that helps teachers and related service providers know what type and level of instruction a student needs. It is a system that promotes inclusion of students from all ability levels into the general educational setting. This system is characterized by the placement of students and instructional methods along a continuum from whole-class instruction to individualized, highly specialized instructional methods. In this chapter, the historical as well as current frameworks that define learning disabilities will be discussed. Next, the eligibility processes associated with acquiring special education services will be examined; paying special attention to RtI and its intersection with learning disabilities. Finally, academic and behavioral interventions will be discussed that have found to be beneficial in increasing the skills of students with learning disabilities.

Transitioning from school to adult life is a challenging time for students with learning disabilities. Students leave the only support system they have known and enter into a world where they need to be self-advocates. This chapter discusses the transitioning process, including the legal aspect and strategies to assist students to make a successful transition into adulthood.

Students with learning disabilities are ever-present in schools today and so is the technology to support these students. Assistive technology supports students with learning disabilities (LD) in terms of access and success in general education and special education settings. This chapter will discuss the challenges students with learning disabilities may face in school and the assistive technology educators can use to help address these challenges. Specifically, this chapter pays particular attention to assistive technology to support core content areas (e.g., literacy and mathematics) as well as organization and self-management.

Families of students with learning disabilities (LD) have much to offer school professionals. When effective collaboration between schools and parents occur, cultural considerations are made to ensure that a relationship of mutual respect and trust is developed. Families can assist teachers and service providers by implementing supplemental instruction for their children to strengthen and generalize the academic and social skills they were taught in school. This chapter illustrates how training parents is a critical component for any parental involvement model. Additionally, simple evidence-based practices that parents can conduct daily with their children are provided. Finally, as a result of their collaboration with school professionals, families and students with LD should feel empowered and confident in their abilities as advocates.

This chapter examines best practice and burgeoning needs within general and special education teacher preparation programs as identified within the literature and as evidenced in recent research (Cavendish, Harry, Menda, Espinosa, & Mahotiere, 2012) that examined the beliefs and practices of current educators teaching within schools utilizing a response to intervention (RtI) model. Specifically, our discussion of the emerging needs in teacher preparation programs that prepare both general and special education teachers for assessment, instructional delivery, and progress monitoring within an RtI framework is informed by a 3-year research project of the initial implementation of an RtI model in a diverse, urban school district. Implications for practice include the need to: (a) address deficit perspectives of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students and youth with disabilities, (b) address changing perceptions of the function of special education, and (c) communicate the need for greater collaboration across silos within teacher preparation programs.

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Book series
Advances in Special Education
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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