Identifying a True Learning Disability – Over Identification
Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, Utah
October 3, 2012
Table of Contents
Questions for Research Plan
Importance of the Study/Hypothesis
Literature Review Discussion
Special education has made great strides in adequately meeting the needs of the students with learning disabilities. Learning disability has been defined as “an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculation (U.S. Department of Education 2006c). The ratio of special education staff to learning disabled children has increased while the amount of students diagnosed with a learning disability has decreased.
As we conduct a Child Find screening for children ages 3-5 years olds we refer children depending on those results for further testing. However, I am finding that certain children are put through the process because they are not hitting the developmental milestones. Children are being labeled as Developmental Delayed who may not necessarily meet the true criteria because external conditions such as lack of parent’s assistance in helping their child develop (i.e., colors, numbers, potty training, etc.) or parent’s desire for child to labeled D.D. to access free services. At times however, I have also observed children with delays that although they meet the criteria are only delayed because of their Cultural upbringing.
Although we have made improvements in testing criteria when identifying a learning disability we are still not meeting the needs of multi-cultural children. According to Obiaker (1998), “methods of getting such information include student interview, parent interview, student observation, academic records, health records, attendance records and discipline records, yet educators continue to honor traditional methods that have consistently created labels and categories.” Purpose/Goal Statement
We need to research, not only what is working in today’s Special Education programs when correctly identifying a disability, but also what’s not working and create realistic testing criteria and develop a process which assists with identifying children with disabilities and not over-identifying.
We must ensure that students are provided “testing in ways free from racial or cultural bias” (Welner, Kevin 2006). Welner (2006) notes that “IDEA applies only to students who, because of their disability, need special education and related services”. We need to ensure that a child’s level of proficiency is directly related to a disability not that child’s proficiency in English, “a child may not be considered eligible for special education if the determinant factor for the decision on eligibility is limited English proficiency and the child does not otherwise meet the 13 disability related eligibility criteria (34 CFR § 300.534).” Altshuler, Sandra J., Kopens, Sandra (2003).
Students attend a public school, Cottonwood Elementary, which is located in Nevada. It used to be a small farming rural town which is now a small city with an industrial area that employs a large part of the community. There are 600 students that attend Early Childhood to 4th grades. There is a Head Start class on the school site as well. We are currently on the watch list and did not make AYP based on our sub-population of students in Special Education.
Questions for Research Plan
How do we identify and prevent a child who meets the criteria for Special Education due to insufficient knowledge of skills because of lack of exposure to basic milestones? How can we not over identify children of different Races who meet the...
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