Based on a paper titled “Learning Disabilities Assessment Methods” by Misty Smith. Originally published for PSY 230 at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education.
Learning disabilities can affect anyone and cannot be visually diagnosed and are often overlooked or mislabeled. Learning disabilities can range from mild to severe and can encompass areas such as reading, math, language, or listening skills. According to Hardman, a learning disability is “a condition in which one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language are deficient” (Hardman, 2017, p. 149).
Learning disabilities Assessment Methods
Learning disabilities can affect anyone and cannot be visually diagnosed and are often overlooked or mislabeled. Learning disabilities can range from mild to severe and can encompass areas such as reading, math, language, or listening skills. According to Hardman, a learning disability is “a condition in which one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language are deficient” (Hardman, 2017, p. 149). There are two major models of assessment of learning disabilities that are in use today: the traditional models and the Response to Intervention approach. However, the traditional models of classifying learning disabilities can often lead to treatment long after the onset of disability, whereas the Response to Intervention methods can help the student long before failures occur.
Conventionally there are three common elements used in the traditional methods of classifying individuals with learning disabilities: discrepancy, heterogeneity, and exclusion (Hardman, 2017, p. 152). In areas such as math, reading, and language the discrepancy approaches compare a gap between achievements in the areas and intelligence (Hardman, 2017, p. 152). Next, the Heterogeneity classification helps professionals label disabilities with performance such as “A visual, hearing, or motor impairment, Limited English proficiency, Environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage, Lack of instruction [sic]” (Hardman, 2017, p.151). Furthermore, the exclusion approach carries the theory that other conditions cannot affect or cause learning disabilities (Hardman, 2017, p.152).
Another method used with individuals with learning and/or behavioral disabilities is the Response to intervention strategy. “Response to Intervention, or RtI, is a strategy for addressing the individual learning and behavior needs of all students within a school” (Hardman, 2017, p. 153). Whereas traditional methods most often use the failure or weakness of skills and activities to diagnose learning disabilities, RtI uses assessments to find disabilities before a student has failed in developmental areas. Therefore, the success of RtI depends on professionals being diligent in monitoring and reporting student progress in all areas of instruction (Hardman, 2017, p.153).
Furthermore, as outlined, the traditional discrepancy model most often waits until a student has failed in at least one or more areas before intervention is started. However, with the Response to Intervention, students can receive much-needed help before a failure occurs which can promote learning. “The overall goal is to decrease the number of children in special education by offering interventions at each of the three tiers” (Vatakis, 2016). Therefore, it is the opinion of this student that the Response to Intervention, or RtI, a method of assessing learning disabilities in students would be a more appropriate and effective approach is not only the assessment period but to the overall needs of the student.
Hardman, Michael L. (2017). Human Exceptionality: School, Community, and Family, 12th Edition. Cengage Learning, 20160101. VitalBook file.
Vatakis, T. (2016). Response to Intervention: Does It Improve Literacy Skills for At-Risk Students?.