What is a Learning Disability?
“Learning Disabilities” refer to a number of disorders that may affect the acquisition, Organization, retention, understanding, or use of verbal or non-verbal information. These disorders affect learning in individuals who otherwise demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking and/or reasoning. As such, learning disabilities are distinct from global intellectual deficiency. Learning disabilities result from difficulties in one or more processes related to perceiving, thinking, remembering, or learning. These include, but are not limited to, language processing, phonological processing, visual spatial processing, processing speed, memory and attention, and executive functions (e.g. planning and decision-making) (Adapted from Learning Disabilities Association of Canada Specific Learning Disability Student Diagnosed with: (Definition)
3. The Achievement Profile of Students with Learning Disabilities By studying the pattern of scores, an educator may begin to determine some of the students’ underlying strengths and areas of need. Assessment may be determined through curriculum-based assessment or norm referenced assessment. When students have low achievement, it may be helpful for the teacher to have both curriculum-based and norm-referenced achievement measures, helping to guide the teacher in providing instruction and adaptations.
Teachers Make The Difference: Teaching students with Learning Disabilities at Middle and secondary Levels 3
❑ request a cognitive assessment if a student is experiencing academic difficulty, but has not had a cognitive assessment;
❑ check for the psych educational reports (including the student’s cognitive profile); ❑ ask questions about the results of the cognitive assessment or the written report to the registered psychologist who performed the assessment;
❑ continue to work closely with the student, making an effort to provide the instruction and adaptations that are necessary for the student to progress academically; and ❑ learn more about the student’s strengths and needs and share this information with the registered psychologist completing the assessment.
Achievement scores for students with learning disabilities:
• typically fall in the below average range in at least one skill area and, often, in several skill areas; • may show considerable variation, appearing extremely low in some areas and above average in others; and
• indicate students’ skills and knowledge in a particular area. Diagnosis of learning disabilities is important to:
• explain why students are underachieving and clarifies for everyone that students are not “lazy” or “just not trying”;
• build the students’ self-esteem, as the students, parents, and teachers come to understand, perhaps for the first time, which the students have average or above average thinking and reasoning skills and are not “stupid”;
• support both teachers’ and students’ efforts towards advocacy for appropriate supports; and • give students access to specialized programs and supports at all levels. In some instances, students may also gain access to additional technology or funding options. i. Curriculum-based Assessment
Teachers measure student achievement at various critical points throughout the instructional process (before, during, and after instruction). A variety of curriculum-based assessment and evaluation tools can be used by teachers to determine a student’s achievement. Checklists, portfolios, observations and anecdotal comments, student-teacher conferences, quizzes, and tests are some of the tools used to collect information about a student’s achievements. When a teacher has concerns about a student’s level of achievement following the use of curriculum-based classroom assessments, a request for additional achievement assessments should be made in order to learn more about the student’s skills and weaknesses, and to identify in which particular areas...
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