When it comes to learning disabilities and education, the jargon that comes with the territory can be daunting and, understandably, frustrating.
Parents of newly diagnosed children and veterans of the space alike can find themselves wondering what exactly a particular model, plan or policy entails. One mother of a child with dyslexia wrote to us with the following question about the discrepancy model and how it affects the diagnosis of a learning disability:
What is the “discrepancy model” and how is it applied in determining a learning disability? If a student is two grade levels or more behind, how can that information be used to demonstrate that the child is actually in need of remedial services? Many school districts in our region of NY are telling parents that they do not need to remediate the student. But if the student is two years or more behind, why would they not
be required to remediate the student? Especially if the student is in high school and is more than two years behind by achievement testing in all areas (reading, writing, math). We were told that as long as the student passes the state tests with a 65% that is all they are required to provide to the student. Is this accurate? Are high schools allowed to say that students are proficient if they are just barely passing their state course end-of-year test assessments? How is that educating to proficiency? I am so frustrated and confused about this stuff!
One of our Parent Support Specialists, Norma Francullo, herself the mother of two children with dyslexia and a special education attorney, responded with the following explanation:
The discrepancy model assesses whether there is a significant difference between a student’s scores on a test of general intelligence (i.e. a WISC
) and scores obtained on an achievement test (i.e. Woodcock Johnson Achievement Test
). This model is used to identify children with learning disabilities. If there is a discrepancy between the child’s IQ and scores on their achievement test, then there is reason to believe that there is a learning disability. Depending on the state that you live in, if the child’s score on the IQ test is at least 1.5-2 standard deviations higher than their scores on an achievement test, then that child may have a learning disability.
If your son is having difficulty in school, the school does not
have to wait until he fails to evaluate him for special services. Have you put your request in writing and has the school denied your request in writing? If not, put your request in writing to the special education department director. If you have proof that your son is two years behind, include that information in your letter to your school district when requesting that the child study team evaluate him for services. Within 20 days from the date of the letter, the school is required
to schedule a meeting to discuss your request.
To schedule a 30-minute phone consultation with Norma or one of Learning Ally’s other Parent Support Specialists, visit www.LearningAlly.org/Parent or call 800-635-1403.