Presentation on theme: "Ventura County SELPA Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) Model: An Overview This PowerPoint is provided as an overview to the Ventura County SELPA."— Presentation transcript:
1 Ventura County SELPA Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) Model: An Overview This PowerPoint is provided as an overview to the Ventura County SELPA PSW Model. Suggested uses include presentations to school staff, including general education teachers, as well as parents. Notes are provided for each slide to assist the presenter. The presenter should feel free to personalize the presentation, adding or subtracting slides as appropriate for the audience.
2 Agenda SLD Eligibility Why change from discrepancy to PSW? Overview of PSW ModelSpecific Learning Disability (SLD) definedPre-referral Interventions and the PSW ModelWhat is your role?This presentation will cover the main points listed on the slide.
3 Eligibility for Special Education How does a student become eligible for Special Education under the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD)?Assessment teams complete a comprehensive assessment to determine whether student meets eligibility requirements set forth by federal/state regulationsUp until IDEA 2004, the discrepancy model was the sole model to be used for SLD identificationAs part of the assessment process for special education eligibility, students are assessed by a multi-disciplinary team to determine if they meet the eligibility criteria outlined by federal and state code. Prior to the 2004 Reauthorization of federal special education law, states were required to use the discrepancy model for Specific Learning Disability identification.
4 What is the discrepancy model? Requires a comprehensive assessment determining:Significant difference between ability (generally Full Scale IQ score) and academic achievement (standardized testing)At least one processing weaknessThe discrepancy model has been the sole method for identifying learning disabilities for decades.It requires that assessment teams compare a students ability (usually judged by the student’s IQ) with their academic achievement on standardized achievement tests (i.e. Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement). The student must have a significant difference (discrepancy) between these two numbers, with IQ being the higher of the two. Additionally, the student must have at least one processing (thinking) weakness (e.g. auditory processing, visual processing, etc.).
5 Why a change to the PSW Model? Federal law (IDEA 2004) allows for alternative research-based approachesCA state regulations specifically allow for the use of the Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses ModelSLD is the largest eligibility categoryMany concerns with discrepancy modelWhen we are completing assessments for students with possible learning disabilities, the law now states that we do not have to use the discrepancy model, the model that we have previously used. Instead, we can use the research-based Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses model, referred to as PSW, to determine whether a student has a learning disability. Both Federal and State criteria allow for the use of models other than the discrepancy model for SLD identification. Federal law refers to the use of “alternative research-based procedures” and CA Education Code, which was updated in 2014, specifically refers to the use of a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses model (PSW). Therefore, the use of the PSW model is a legal model according to both federal and state criteria.One of the reasons why our SELPA has spent time on a new model for SLD identification is because SLD is the largest group of students identified for special education amongst the 13 areas of eligibility. In Dec 2013, 6,186 students were identified as SLD within the Ventura County SELPA. Therefore, Ventura County SELPA wanted to move to a model that was research-based.There has been much criticism surrounding the use of the discrepancy model for SLD identification.
6 Concerns with the Discrepancy Model Research has long pointed to problems with this model including:Difficult to identify SLD early, which could delay intervention during critical time periodsOver-identification of studentsInconsistent application of approachNot research-basedUse with African-American studentsNo link required between academic and processing weakness.Literature has long pointed to problems with this model including:Difficult to identify early. It can be very difficult to identify a student with a true SLD early because such a large discrepancy is needed between the student’s ability (IQ) and their achievement on standardized achievement scores. Therefore, teams are often forced to make the decision to wait until a student is low enough academically to achieve this discrepancy, even if there may be overwhelming evidence to support a significant processing issue. In the meantime, they may be missing out on critical learning time periods where specialized intervention and instruction could be given.Over-identification of students. This is the case in Ventura County. While special education numbers should be around 10%, Ventura County’s numbers have been larger than this. Which means that some students are being labeled with a disability inappropriately.Inconsistent application of approach- Research has found that different practitioners, schools and school districts apply the discrepancy model in different ways (e.g. some use a strict 1.5 standard deviation discrepancy (22.5 standard score point difference), while others make exceptions for using less (e.g., 18 or fewer).Not research-based- The discrepancy model is not research based.Cannot be used consistently with African-American students- In California, it is not legal to use an IQ test with African American students for special education purposes.No Link required Within the discrepancy model, a link between the processing deficit and the academic weakness is not required. Therefore, the assessment team is not required to examined the WHY behind the student’s academic weakness.
7 PSW Premise Based on several core research-based principles: Specific Learning Disabilities are characterized by neurologically-based deficits in cognitive processingResearch has demonstrated the existence of specific cognitive processes (e.g. visual processing, working memory, etc.).Researchers are also in agreement that sound tools and measures exist to assess these processing areasResearch has also found links between various processing areas and specific areas of academic achievement .Specific Learning Disabilities are characterized by neurologically-based deficits in cognitive processing. This is a within learner trait. This is something that is happening in the brain. Research supports that students with SLD process information differently than students without learning disabilities.Research has demonstrated the existence of specific separate cognitive processes. E.g. auditory processing, visual processing, working memory, etc.Researchers are also in agreement that sound tools and measures exist to assess these cognitive processing areasResearch has also found links between various cognitive processes and specific areas of academic achievement. If interested in more information, please see the Comprehensive Organizational Matrix of Processing and Achievement Relations, Examining Significance (COMPARES) which can be found in the PSW Procedural Manual.
8 What is the Ventura County SELPA PSW Model? Requires a comprehensive assessment to determine why a student is struggling academically.As student with SLD must have:Evidence of some processing (thinking) strengths within the average range (some average thinking skills)Evidence of at least one significant processing weaknessEvidence of at least one significant academic weaknessAdditionally, the Academic weakness(es) must be linked to (or explained by) the processing weakness(es).The Ventura County SELPA PSW Model requires assessment teams to determine that the student has both a pattern of strengths and a pattern of weaknesses. Remember that a pattern requires more than one test score. No one test score will determine a student’s eligibility for special education.A student with SLD must meet the criteria listed on the screen to be eligible for SLD under the Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses model.The academic weakness must be linked to the processing weakeness….it must make sense!
9 Benefits of PSW ModelCan allow for earlier identification of students with SLDRequires an assessment that provides answer to why the student is not respondingAssessment linked to targeted interventionsCan better assist assessment teams at ruling out other disabilities (emotional disturbance, other health impairment) and/or factors (language, instructional, environmental) that may be interfering with learningEarlier identification-No longer requires use of discrepancy between IQ and achievement, which allows for earlier identification of students with true neurological processing deficits impacting their learning.Requires an assessment that provides answer to why the student is not responding. Some other alternative SLD assessment approaches do not require a comprehensive assessment to investigate why a student is struggling academically.Assessment linked to targeted interventions. Once we understand why a student is not responding, we are more likely to be able to use targeted interventions and teach strategies that can help a student compensate for their areas of weakness.Can assist assessment teams at ruling out other disabilities (ED, OHI) and/or exclusionary factors (language, instructional, environmental). This can better assist school teams in more accurate identification and intervention.
10 Academic Assessment and the PSW Model While standardized achievement tests are still required to be given as part of a comprehensive PSW assessment, more weight is now placed on other academic measures which may include data sources such as:Grade level assessmentsGradesWork samplesProgress monitoring dataProgress toward IEP goals (for triennials/reevaluations)Within the discrepancy model, much of the academic assessment portion was based on standardized academic achievement test scoresThere may be certain times when a standardized achievement test does not paint an accurate picture of a student’s true performance in a specific academic area, particularly for younger students. Assessment teams must also consider additional academic data to determine whether a student has a significant academic weakness, which gives more credence to data collected by general education teacher.By law, someone on the assessment team (generally the psychologist) must also conduct an observation of the student.
11 SLD DefinedAn SLD exists in students with an Otherwise Normal Cognitive Ability Profile (ONCAP) who possess unexpected underachievement in one or more of the eight achievement areas outlined in California Ed. Code which is explained by one or more of the domain-specific processing weakness outlined in California Ed. Code (CCR Title 5 Section 3030 (j))This is the Ventura County SELPA’s definition of a specific learning disability. This definition is based on language from other researchers and educational organizations (e.g. National Association of School Psychologists, Learning Disabilities Association of America).The Ventura County SELPA believes that the PSW model is the best assessment method to be used to determine weather a student meets this definition.
12 Example of SLD within the PSW Model Visual processing and oral language skills are in the average range (processing strengths)Phonological processing skills in the below average range (processing weakness)Basic reading skills (decoding) and reading fluency in the below average range (academic weaknesses)Research indicates that weaknesses in auditory processing are linked to poor reading skills (linked)This would be an example of a student with SLD, as assessed using the PSW model.
13 What a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is VS. What SLD is not Characterized by areas of strength at or above the average range along with specific areas of weakness.Characterized by generally low or below average cognitive abilities with little or no areas of strength.Characterized by processing weakness(es) that are linked by research to specific academic weakness(es).Characterized by processing weakness(es) that are not linked with academic weakness(es).For accurate identification, it is important to consider what an SLD is vs. what it is not.
14 What a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is VS. What SLD is not (cont Explained by a neurologically-based processing deficit or deficits.Explained primarily by low or below average cognitive abilities or another disability categoryCharacterized as a “within learner” trait.Explained by external factors such as instructional or environmental variables.May co-exist with other disability conditions (sensory, language, behavioral).Primarily explained by another disability and/or condition.
15 Accurate Identification and Assessment: SLD vs. GLD A Specific learning disability (SLD) is characterized by specific strengths and weaknesses (peaks and valleys) while a student with all or most areas in the low average or below average range (flat profile) would not have a specific learning disability, but rather a general learning difficulty (GLD)The latter student would not be eligible under the SLD special education eligibility category.Both types of students demonstrate academic underachievement, but only those who demonstrate a pattern of strengths and weaknesses would be eligible for special education under the category of specific learning disability.Students who are eligible for special education under the category of SLD typically require individualized services, not simply more intensive services (LDA, 2010). They must also possess the thinking skills required to learn compensatory strategies and apply them independently (Flanagan, Ortiz, & Alfonso, 2013). This is not to say that students with GLD would not require interventions.
16 The Importance of Pre-Referral Interventions and the PSW Model PSW model works best with RtI² as pre-referral interventionResearch has found that fewer students require special education as their academic needs are being identified and targeted in general educationWhile the Ventura County SELPA PSW Model does not mandate that individual schools utilize a Response to Instruction and Intervention model (RtI²) as a pre-referral requirement, there are certain basic elements that should be considered prior to considering a special education evaluation.It should be noted that the PSW model works best when it is used in conjunction with an instruction and intervention model that includes a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) along with effective screening and progress monitoring procedures. Some practitioners have reported that up to one-third fewer students are being identified as having an SLD when using a combined RTI/PSW model, as they are more accurately able to identify other disabilities (e.g. OHI, ED) or exclusionary factors (e.g. environmental, instructional, attendance, language considerations) as the primary cause for a student’s underachievement (Hanson, Sharman, & Esparza-Brown, 2009).
17 Pre-Referral: Standards-based Instruction & Differentiated Instruction Delivered by qualified personnelState adopted standardsELD for EL studentsImplemented with fidelityDifferentiated strategiesAccommodationsAccording to the Federal definition of Specific Learning Disabilities, to ensure that underachievement in a student suspected of having a Specific Learning Disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group making the decision about whether assessment is appropriate must consider whether prior to, or part of the referral process, the student was provided:Appropriate differentiated instruction in general education settings using state-adopted standards in reading, writing, mathematics and English Language Development (for EL students), delivered by qualified personnel.
18 Pre-Referral: Targeted Interventions Intervention targeted to the student’s specific needsDecoding vs comprehensionResearch-based interventionsFidelityTimeFrequencyGroup SizeIn addition, school teams need to document that research-based interventions and the monitoring of progress within the general education setting (SELPA, 2009) has occurred. Interventions and instruction should be targeted to meet the student’s area of academic or behavioral instructional need (e.g. decoding, math calculations, social skills, etc.) and should be implemented with fidelity for a reasonable period of time.
19 Pre-Referral: Data Collection Pre- and post-dataDiagnostic/Entry LevelFormativeProgress MonitoringSummativeRegular intervalsExamination of data in comparison toWhole Grade LevelStudents within intervention groupIndividual student growthDocumentation of multiple data points of repeated assessment of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting assessment of student progress during instruction also needs to be provided.These data sources should include both pre- and post-intervention data from a variety of sources. Data sources may be, but are not limited to:Teacher-created or published diagnostic, formative and summative assessmentsProgress monitoring data (DIBELS, EasyCBM, etc.)District benchmark assessmentsThese data sources may come from teachers’ diagnostic or entry level assessment, formative, or summative assessments.When examining student data, it is important to analyze the data in comparison to other students within that grade level/department as well as the other students who are receiving interventions. Lastly, individual student growth needs to also be analyzed.
20 What is your role? Advocate for your students Bring data about your studentStrengthsAreas of concernWhat has been triedStay involved in the processAsk questionsYou have a very important role in this process. You need to advocate for your student. You have a lot of knowledge about this student that needs to be shared with the team. If you have data, share it. What are areas of strength that you have noticed with this student? What interventions have already been tried in the school and/or home settings? As the process from concern to possible referral for assessment to IEP meeting progresses, stay involved in the process. Ask questions when you have them.
21 Resources www.venturacountyselpa.com For detailed information about the Ventura County SELPA PSW Model, visit the SELPA website at and click on the tab that states “Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses” on the left side of the screen.