A Closer Look at Specific Learning Disabilities & IDEA 2004<br />Courtney Huff, Literacy Consultant<br />Meaghan Gauthier, Literacy Consultant<br />
Identifying SLDs Prior to IDEA 2004<br />Districts were required to measure academic performance using the following criteria:<br />Is the student performing at a similar level as his/her peers in terms of age and ability?<br />Is there a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability?<br />If there is a severe discrepancy, is it the primary result of 1) visual, hearing, or motor impairment; 2)mental retardation; 3)emotional disturbance; or 4)environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage.<br />If the answer to the above three questions are – yes, yes, and no, respectively – then the student met the criteria for SLD eligibility.<br />
Concerns Regarding pre-IDEA 2004 SLD Criteria<br />According to the Commission on Excellence in Special Education:<br />Over the 10 preceding years, there was a 36% increase in SLD eligibility<br />Diagnostic criteria lacked consistency and made it possible to certify any under-achieving child as SLD.<br />Other Concerns:<br />The discrepancy model lacked scientific research basis and led to misidentification.<br />It was viewed as a “wait-to-fail” model.<br />Special education services offered to SLD eligible students were not effective at older ages.<br />
IDEA 2004: New SLD Requirements <br />IDEA 2004 did not change the definition of SLD. <br />However, it did give states the following criteria (See Page 5 of Federal Register: §300.307) :<br />They must not require the use of severe discrepancy to determine if a child has an SLD. <br />They must allow an identification process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention (RTI).<br />They could permit could permit the use of other alternative research-based procedures. <br />
IDEA 2004: New SLD Requirements<br />The USDOE changed its rule on how to determine the existence of a SLD. (See Page 5 of Federal Register, §300.309)<br />§300.309 is the ‘Underachievement Plus’ model<br />Underachievement plus<br />#1: Despite appropriate instruction for age and grade level standards.<br />#2: Pick one of the following: 1)Slow rate of progress in intervention, or 2)Pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both.<br />#3 adverse impact to the point that the student needs special education.<br />
IDEA 2004: Putting it into Practice<br />To determine if a student has a SLD, we have to ‘rule-in’ the following factors:<br />Achievement data (§300.309(a))<br />1: Inadequate achievement for age or grade level content standards.<br />2: Insufficient progress towards standards based on the student’s response to intervention.<br />2: OR patterns of strengths and weaknesses relevant to the determination of a SLD.<br />
IDEA 2004: Putting it into Practice<br />To determine if a student has a SLD, we have to ‘rule-out’ the following factors:<br />Inadequate achievement is not the primary result of other disabilities or factors (i.e. visual impairment or economic disadvantage, etc.). (§300.309(a)(3))<br />Inadequate achievement is not due to lack of appropriate instruction. (§300.309(b))<br />This needs to be supported by two data requirements.<br />1: Data demonstrating that appropriate instruction took place in reading and math and was delivered by qualified personnel.<br />2: Data-based documentation of formative assessments. Was there repeated assessment of achievement at reasonable intervals, and was it shared with the parents?<br />
IDEA 2004: Putting it into Practice<br />Other requirements specific to a SLD evaluation:<br />Observation (See Page 6 of Federal Register: §300.310)<br />Observe the child’s area of difficulty in his/her learning environment.<br />Must include the relationship of behavior to the child’s academic performance.<br />Adverse impact to the point that the student requires special education.<br />Educationally relevant medical findings if any.<br />
IDEA 2004: Putting it into Practice<br />Other requirements specific to a SLD evaluation continued:<br />RTI (§300.311)<br />Data collection includes instructional strategies and student progress monitoring. <br />Documentation that parents were notified about the following:<br />State policies regarding the amount and nature of data to be collected and services provided.<br />Strategies that will be used to increase rate of learning.<br />Parent’s right to request an evaluation.<br />
References:<br />LaPointe, S. (2009). The New SLD Evaluation and Eligibility Determination Process. Presentation in Traverse City, MI: April 7, 2009<br />Kraft, C. N. (Ed.). (2008). What Do I Do When...The Answer Book on RTI. Arlington: LRP Publications. <br />Federal Register/ Vol.71, No.156/Monday, August 14, 2006/Rules and Regulations<br />Buffum, A., Mattos, M., & Weber, C. (2009). Pyramid Response to Intervention. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree.<br />
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