Time for the rubber to meet the road.

I need to provide a real context to the first webinar I am developing about BRIDGING THE GAP:  PSYCHOEDUCATIONAL EVALUATIONS AS THE KEY TO COLLABORATION.  There are literally millions of children and their parents who are in great pain because they are misunderstood and undersupported.  If your child is struggling with literacy acquisition, you need to be armed with this information for two reasons.  One, you’ll need to advocate for help from others (often your child’s school) and 2) you’ll need to create your own plan outside of school resources.

I have to provide some legal and regulatory background…I know it’s not sexy but it’s important.  For this post, I’m going to quote heavily from a white paper created by a team from the Learning Disabilities Association of America in February 2010.

In 2006, a statute was published that outlined the regulations for what is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Included within that ACT was the definition for Specific Learning Difficulties (SLD).  Unfortunately, a very big change had occurred.  In this revision, the definition for SLD “put the emphasis on identifying students who are not achieving adequate for the child’s age or the attainment of State-approved grade-level standards, not abilities.”

So what does that mean?  Most critically, it means that determining whether a child had a learning disability and consequently was eligible for services from the public schools was no longer based on how their brain was wired but rather a much more broad-based score!

Stay with me…

So when a child becomes eligible for services, the first thing that needs to happen is that they need to be evaluated…TESTED…

If the criteria for getting help is no longer tied to how your brain is wired and whether there are weaknesses, then schools are no longer required to assess the child using tools to specify where there are weaknesses in their brain wiring.  IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THE WEAKNESSES ARE IN THE CHILD’S PROCESSING CAPABILITIES HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW TO INTERVENE!!!!  How can you support the teacher/tutor efforts to remediate?  How do you guide the parents’ work with the child at home?  The answer is you can’t.

Over the next week, I’m going to break down and discuss the five conclusions noted in the LDA White Paper from their Expert Panel in simple language.

Here are the summaries of the five conclusions:

  1. Maintain the SLD definition and strengthen statutory requirements in SLD identification procedures.
  2.  Neither ability-achievement discrepancy analyses nor failure to respond to intervention alone is sufficient for SLD Identification.
  3. To meet SLD statutory and regulatory requirements, a “third method” approach that identifies a pattern of psychological processing strengths and deficits and achievement deficits consistent with this pattern of processing deficits makes the most empirical sense.
  4. An empirically-validated RTI model could be used to prevent learning problems but comprehensive evaluations should occur whenever necessary for SLD identification purposes and children with SLD need individualized interventions based on specific learning needs, not merely more intense interventions designed for children in general education.
  5. Assessment of cognitive and neuropsychological processes should be used not only for identification but for intervention purposes as well and these assessment-intervention relationships need further empirical investigation.