Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Critical Issues in Response-to-Intervention, Comprehensive Evaluation, and Specific Learning Disabilities Identification and Intervention: An Expert White Paper Consensus

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Critical Issues in Response-to-Intervention, Comprehensive Evaluation, and Specific Learning Disabilities Identification and Intervention: An Expert White Paper Consensus

Article excerpt

Abstract. Developed in concert with the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA), this White Paper regarding specific learning disabilities identification and intervention represents the expert consensus of 58 accomplished scholars in education, psychology, medicine, and the law. Survey responses and empirical evidence suggest that five conclusions are warranted: 1) The SLD definition should be maintained and the statutory requirements in SLD identification procedures should be strengthened; 2) neither ability-achievement discrepancy analysis nor failure to respond to intervention alone is sufficient for SLD identification; 3) a "third method" approach that identifies a pattern of psychological processing strengths and weaknesses, and achievement deficits consistent with this pattern of processing weaknesses, makes the most empirical and clinical sense; 4) an empirically-validated RTI model could be used to prevent learning problems, but comprehensive evaluations should occur for SLD identification purposes, and children with SLD need individualized interventions based on specific learning needs, not merely more intense interventions; and 5) assessment of cognitive and neuropsychological processes should be used for both SLD identification and intervention purposes.

White Paper Overview and Purpose

This White Paper project was undertaken to address the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) concerns regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 statutory and regulatory requirements for the identification of Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), and the subsequent U.S. Department of Education Final Regulations and Commentary regarding implementation of IDEA (34 CFR Parts 300 and 301; Federal Register, 2006).

The purpose of the White Paper is to provide additional information for and guidance to the federal government, professional organizations, practitioners, and the public. The LDA is hopeful that this document will facilitate legal, regulatory, policy, and training decisions, and ultimately, service delivery to children with SLD.

Subsequent to public release, the LDA sought to examine the arguments presented in IDEA and the Final Regulations. The LDA Public Policy/Advocacy Committee solicited a number of professionals to examine the evidence that supported or refuted the information presented in the law and commentary. This LDA effort resulted in an LDA White Paper Survey of experts in the field, which in turn led to the production of this White Paper.

This White Paper presents the expert professional opinions and empirical evidence regarding the identification of children with SLD and best practices in SLD service delivery. The findings of the LDA Expert Panel Survey (see Appendix A) and this White Paper represent the opinions and empirical evidence presented by 58 doctoral-level scholars in special education, psychology, medicine and the law with expertise in and public recognition for their work in SLD identification and intervention.

METHOD

Participants

All 58 Expert Panel participants have published extensively in SLD, cognitive/neuropsychological assessment of high incidence disorders including SLD, and/or SLD educational intervention, in peer-reviewed journals, peer-reviewed scholarly books, and/or argued legal cases in court proceedings (see Table 1 for demographic data). Given the goal of the White Paper, to affect SLD public policy and practices in the United States, only those individuals with professional affiliations in this country were invited to participate by the LDA. In addition, authors who have primarily advocated ability-achievement discrepancy or failure to respond-to-intervention for SLD identification purposes in their writings and/or presentations were not considered for inclusion in the sample.

A total of 64 individuals were initially invited to participate, three of whom declined due to time demands, two declined without reason, and one declined because the person had concerns that our position that cognitive and neuropsychological assessment data were relevant for intervention was premature. …

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