Thursday, April 1, 2010

Learning Disabilities

This is an article that talks about diagnosing children with learning disabilities. There are two ways in which psychologists make their diagnosis. One is based on numbers and thus asserts IQ tests as a critical tool. The other way is referred to as “response to intervention” or RTI. 

Psychologists use IQ tests in order to measure intelligence. However, the problem with this is that children with learning disabilities often show normal or above average on the IQ tests. However, what they fail to do is achieve academically. This has led to the rise of the RTI model, which instead of measuring intelligence in numbers, “identifies children who are failing to succeed, gives them remedial assistance, attends to its effect and then determines if further services are merited,” according to Randy Kamphaus PhD of the University of Georgia. 

Both techniques seem to have a number of unsolved issues. Relying only on numbers and IQ tests seem to not take into account those children with low achievement, while the RTI model has been shown to inappropriately identify children with mental retardation or emotional problems as learning disabled. 

Some advocate for limiting the number of students a school can deem learning disabled and eligible for services. This, perhaps, would force more accurate diagnosis of the causes of a child's academic failure. According to Kamphaus, “Caps will encourage schools to think more critically of who merits a diagnosis of learning disabled." However, will this really be a cause for more accurate diagnosis to develop, or will it merely cause schools to crunch their numbers, leaving out some children who really should be classified as learning disabled? I don’t think the problem here lies in numbers. I think the problem is ultimately that testing is not accurate enough. While there seem to be many variations of testing, none seem to combine all the necessary factors that go into child learning disabilities. 

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