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DEFINING LEARNING DISABILITIES Although more than 40 different definitions for learning disabilities have been proposed, most states and school districts.

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Presentation on theme: "DEFINING LEARNING DISABILITIES Although more than 40 different definitions for learning disabilities have been proposed, most states and school districts."— Presentation transcript:

1 DEFINING LEARNING DISABILITIES Although more than 40 different definitions for learning disabilities have been proposed, most states and school districts require that three criteria be met: A severe discrepancy between the child's intellectual ability and achievement W Children who are having minor or temporary difficulties in learning should not be identified. W A child with LD shows an "unexpected" difference between general intellectual ability and academic achievement. W Confusion and disagreement over exactly how a severe discrepancy should be determined have led to widely different procedures for identifying and classifying students as learning disabled. Exclusion criterion W Students with LD have significant learning problems that cannot be explained by other disabilities or lack of opportunity to learn. W Controversial: Can a child with mental retardation also have LD? Need for special education services W Students with learning disabilities are those who show specific and severe learning problems in spite of normal educational efforts. T 7.1 W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES Reading Problems - Difficulty with reading is by far the most common characteristic of students with learning disabilities. It is estimated that at least 80% of all children identified as learning disabled are referred for special education services because of reading problems (Lerner, 1993). Written Language Deficits - When compared to their peers without disabilities, students with learning disabilities perform significantly lower across most written expression tasks, especially vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Math Underachievement - Numerical reasoning and calculation pose major problems for many students with learning disabilities. One large-scale study of the characteristics of students with learning disabilities reported an average math score in at approximately the 30th percentile (Kavale & Reese, 1992). Social Skills Deficits - About 75% of students with learning disabilities exhibit deficits in social skills (Kavale & Forness, 1996). W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.2

3 CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS WITH LD (con't.) Attention Problems and Hyperactivity - Attention deficit (the inability to attend to a task) and hyperactivity (high rates of purposeless movement) are frequently cited as characteristics of children with learning disabilities. The term currently used to describe this combination of behavioral traits is attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. (See Transparency 7.4.) Behavioral Problems - Some students with learning disabilities display behavioral problems in the classroom. However, the relationships between the students' problem behavior and academic difficulty are not known. In other words, we do not know whether the academic deficits or the behavioral problems cause the other difficulty. As with ADHD, many children with learning disabilities exhibit no behavioral problems at all. The Defining Characteristic - Although students who receive special education under the learning disabilities category are an extremely heterogeneous group, it is important to remember that the fundamental, defining characteristic of students with learning disabilities is: specific and significant achievement deficiency in the presence of adequate overall intelligence. W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.3

4 ATTENTION PROBLEMS AND HYPERACTIVITY Attention deficit (the inability to attend to a task) and hyperactivity (high rates of purposeless movement) are frequently cited as characteristics of children with learning disabilities. W The term currently used to describe this combination of behavioral traits is attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. W Children are diagnosed as ADD according to criteria found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV): The essential feature of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 78). W To diagnose ADHD, a physician must determine that a child consistently displays six or more symptoms of either inattention or hyperactivity-impulsivity for a period of at least 6 months. W The diagnostic criteria for ADHD are so diverse and subjective that a child who is not diagnosed by one physician may very well be diagnosed as such by another doctor. W ADHD is not the same as LD. Although some children with LD are hyperactive and inattentive, many are calm and work hard at learning tasks. T 7.4 W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved.

5 CAUSES OF LEARNING DISABILITIES In almost every case, the cause (etiology) of a child's learning disability is unknown. Four suspected causal factors are: brain damage, heredity, biochemical imbalance, and environmental causes. Brain Damage Some students with learning disabilities show definite signs of brain damage, which may be the cause of their learning problems. Some professionals believe that all children with LD suffer from some type of brain injury or dysfunction of the central nervous system. W The term minimal brain dysfunction is sometimes used in cases where actual evidence of brain damage cannot be shown. W Two problems with etiologic theories linking LD to brain damage: (1) Lack of evidence: most children with learning disabilities do not display clinical (medical) evidence of brain damage; and (2) the assumption can serve as a powerful, built-in excuse for failure to teach the student Biochemical Imbalance Some researchers believe that biochemical disturbances within a child's body are the cause of learning disabilities. W Feingold (1975) claimed that artificial food colorings and flavorings can cause learning disabilities and hyperactivity. W Although his diet with no foods containing synthetic colors or flavors has been widely used, there is little evidence to support his theory. W Cott (1972) hypothesized that LD can be caused by the inability of a child's bloodstream to synthesize a normal amount of vitamins. W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.5

6 CAUSES OF LEARNING DISABILITIES (con’t) Biochemical Imbalance (con’t) W Studies have found that megavitamin therapy (huge doses of vitamins) did not improve the performance of LD and hyperkinetic children, and several researchers have cautioned against the potential risks of large doses of vitamins. W While it is possible that biochemistry may affect a student's behavior and learning in the classroom, no scientific evidence exists today to reveal the nature or extent of that influence. Heredity Siblings and children of persons with reading disabilities have a slightly greater than normal likelihood of having reading problems. There is growing evidence that heredity may account for at least some of family linkage with dyslexia (Pennington, 1995). Environmental Factors Some educators believe that the majority of children labeled LD are the products of poor instruction. W Although it would be naive to think that the learning problems of all children stem from inadequate instruction, from an educational perspective, direct, intensive, and systematic instruction should be the treatment of first choice. W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.6

7 TYPES OF ASSESSMENT Norm-Referenced Achievement Tests W A student's score is compared to those of other students of the same age who have taken the same test. W Scores are often reported by grade level; e.g., a score of 3.5 equals the average score by those students in the norm group who were halfway through the third grade. W Examples: Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, Peabody Individual Achievement Test, Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), Gates-McKillop Reading Diagnostic Test, Gray Oral Reading Tests, Spache Diagnostic Reading Scales, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests, KeyMath- Revised: A Diagnostic Test of Essential Skills, Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test, and the Test of Mathematical Abilities. Criterion-Referenced Tests W A child's score is compared with a predetermined criterion, or mastery level, rather than with normed scores of other students. W Identify specific skills the child has already learned and the skills that require instruction. W Example: BRIGANCE Comprehensive Diagnostic Inventory of Basic Skills W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.7

8 TYPES OF ASSESSMENT (con’t) Informal Reading Inventories W Usually consist of a series of progressively more difficult sentences and paragraphs that a student is asked to read aloud. W By directly observing and recording aspects of the student's reading skills--such as mispronounced vowels or consonants, omissions, reversals, substitutions, and comprehension–the teacher can determine the level of reading material that is most suitable for the child and the specific reading skills that require remediation. Curriculum-Based Measurement W Frequent assessment of a student's progress in learning the objectives that make up the actual curriculum in which the student is participating. A formative evaluation method that provides information on student learning as instruction takes place over time. W Advantages of direct and daily measurement: (1) gives information about the child's performance on the skill being taught, each day that it is taught; (2) since this information is available on a continuous basis, the teacher can adjust the child's program according to changing (or perhaps unchanging) performance, instead of intuition, guesswork, or the results of a test that measures something else. W Example: Precision teaching (see Transparencies 7.9 and 7.10). W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.8

9 PRECISION TEACHING W A system for direct daily measurement of student academic performance, often with students with learning disabilities. W Curricular decisions are based on the changing frequency of a student's performance (i.e., count per unit of time) as plotted on a standard graphic display, called the Standard Celeration Chart (see Transparency 7.10). W Neither a specific method of teaching nor a curriculum, PT is a way of evaluating the effects of instruction and making instructional decisions. Precision teachers use the following procedures: 1. Pinpoint the performance 2. Count correct and incorrect performances 3. Identify the learning channel 4. Plan for a counting time 5. Specify a performance standard or instructional aim 6. Arrange before and after events 7. Make curricular decisions W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.9

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11 EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION Explicit instruction involves carefully designed materials and activities that provide structures and supports that enable students to make sense of new information and concepts. In other words, explicit instruction is anything but learning by trial and error. Teachers use explicit instruction when they (Carnine, Jones, & Dixon, 1994; Gersten, 1997): 1. Provide students with a sufficient range of examples to illustrate a concept or problem-solving strategy. 2.Provide models of proficient performance, including step-by-step strategies (at times) or broad, generic questions and guidelines that focus attention and prompt deep processing. 3.Have students explain how and why they make decisions. 4.Provide frequent, positive feedback for student performance so students persist in activities. 5.Provide adequate practice opportunities that entail interesting and engaging activities. W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.11

12 WHAT IS DIRECT INSTRUCTION? The Direct Instruction Model, or DI, is characterized by: High Rates of Student Engagement High rates of active student response are generated by having students chorally respond in unison to a rapidly paced series of teacher-presented items. Individual turns are interspersed within group responses. To help both the pacing and the simultaneous participation by all students, teachers use signals (e.g., hand movements, claps) to cue the students when to respond. Immediate Feedback Correct responses are praised, and materials have been designed so that students are correct 70% of first-time responses. All errors are corrected immediately via a model-lead-test procedure that ends with the student making the correct responses. A good DI teacher does not move to the next task in a lesson (or from one lesson to the next) until the students have demonstrated their mastery of the current task (or lesson). Scripted Lessons Scripts indicate what the teacher should do and say for each item or task in the lesson and ensure consistent, quality instruction across teachers. Learner-Tested Curriculum Design The heart of DI is the curriculum design—the selection and sequencing of instructional examples. Each DI program is extensively field tested and revised based on student performance data. The goal is to include every piece necessary to make the lessons successful. W. L. Heward, Exceptional Children, 6e,  2000 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. All rights reserved. T 7.12


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