The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) recently published Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards, introducing a comprehensive framework for the assessment and identification of students with specific learning disabilities (SLD). These standards are a valuable resource for educators, psychologists, policymakers, and anyone interested in and involved with enhancing the quality of education and support for individuals with specific learning disabilities.
The primary goal of this new framework is to encourage a transition from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more individualized and research-informed evaluation process that promotes better understanding, increased collaboration, and tailored interventions for students with SLD.
These new principles and standards expand upon the existing mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to evaluating and supporting students with SLDs.
These guidelines emphasize collaborative evaluation teams involving professionals from various fields, including psychology, education, and medicine. They extend beyond the previous focus on identification and delve into personalized interventions that cater to each student's unique academic, linguistic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Additionally, these updated principles highlight the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity that have not been explicitly addressed in prior IDEA mandates.
The SLD landscape
LDA research sheds light on the educational landscape for students with specific learning disabilities, revealing that they constitute 32% of the student disability population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2023). The research also reveals the persistent challenge of low student achievement; specifically, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data indicates a substantial disparity between students with disabilities and their peers without disabilities. According to 2022 NAEP data:
Additionally, this research underscores significant inequity for students with SLD, especially those from Black/African American, Latinx, or Indigenous backgrounds. These students are disproportionately marginalized in the areas of identification, intervention, and instructional processes compared to White students.
Given this data, the team from LDA determined it was necessary to develop new principles and standards that not only identify the cause of learning differences but potential interventions.
The seven principles of SLD evaluation
LDA created the new standards using seven foundational principles to create a common set of values among stakeholders with respect to SLD evaluation. These principles are:
Eight standards for SLD evaluation
Using these principles, the LDA team established the following standards for SLD evaluation.
About this research
The researchers involved in creating the principles and standards pursued a comprehensive strategy that interwove historical context, global viewpoints, and scholarly research. Their approach involved dissecting the progression of terms and definitions connected to SLD, delving into historical shifts in perspectives, and emphasizing the pivotal role of cognitive assessments in SLD evaluations.
By integrating these insights, the LDA constructed a holistic model for the SLD evaluation process. This model encompasses guiding principles, assessment components, and avenues for future enhancements—the methodology aimed to establish a dynamic framework accommodating the evolving landscape of SLD evaluation practices and insights.
LDA’s research highlights pivotal aspects of the evolution in identifying SLDs. These findings illuminate the shift toward a more inclusive, adaptable, and personalized approach to assessing and addressing learning challenges. This includes transforming SLD terminology globally in response to the growing importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and adopting innovative response-to-intervention (RTI) methods.
Summary of research findings
The Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards is a comprehensive guide aligned with well-established research and practices in SLD evaluation.
This research underscores the critical importance of incorporating qualitative and quantitative research methodologies while accounting for individuals' cultural and linguistic contexts. The outcomes of this research have the potential to significantly enhance the understanding and refinement of SLD evaluations, ultimately leading to more equitable and efficient interventions and support mechanisms for those grappling with specific learning disabilities.
The outlined principles and standards offer evaluators a structured framework for conducting thorough and valid assessments of individuals with suspected SLD. An integral aspect of this approach involves employing diverse assessment methods from various data sources.
Notably, the research advocates utilizing multiple assessment approaches, encompassing standardized tests, observations, interviews, and questionnaires. As a result of this multifaceted methodology, an individual's strengths, weaknesses, and distinct learning requirements can be comprehensively identified.
Further elevating the significance of this work is its emphasis on the need to incorporate an individual's cultural and linguistic background during SLD evaluations. This inclusion fosters culturally responsive assessment practices that consider the influence of one's cultural heritage and linguistic proficiency on one's learning and academic accomplishments.
The implications of these research findings extend to practitioners, policymakers, and researchers entrenched in the domain of SLD evaluation. This study provides important guidance to improve evaluations for people with learning disabilities, ensuring a fair and effective assessment process.
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McHale-Small, M., Tridas, E., S., Cárdenas-Hagan, E., Allsopp, D.H., van Ingen Lauer, S., Scott, K.,& Elbeheri, G. (2023). Specific Learning Disabilities Principles and Standards. Learning Disabilities Association of America. ldaamerica.org
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 2023 National Report Card. https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/
For more than 20 years, PAR has taken part in a week-long campaign to raise funds for United Way Suncoast.
Last week was our 2023 fundraising drive; PAR staff spent the week learning more about the impact United Way has on the Tampa Bay community while taking part in team challenges and interdepartmental games. We are thrilled that we had 100% staff participation and exceeded our fundraising goal—raising $120,969 in staff contributions to benefit those in need.
In the Tampa area, United Way aims to break the cycle of generational poverty through initiatives targeted at education, literacy, financial education, disaster services, neighborhood programs, and strategic community partnerships.
We were fortunate to have leaders of our local United Way as well as representatives from partner agencies visit our offices this week to share the impact our donations have had on our community.
Want to learn more about how you can help United Way where you live? Visit unitedway.org.
One of PAR’s core values is to give back to our community. Learn more about some of the ways we do that throughout the year.
Suicide is a major mental health concern that devastates lives and causes unimaginable pain. Its impact devastates individuals, families, and communities. Suicide rates have been rising globally, yet it is a complex and multifaceted issue. Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, honored each September, holds significant importance in bringing attention to this public health concern.
The current state of suicide
According to the World Health Organization, more than 700,000 people die by suicide every year, making it the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 29 years old. According to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a 37% increase in suicide rates over the past two decades in the United States. And certain populations are at a higher risk—according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the annual prevalence of serious thoughts of suicide are evident in 45% of LGBTQ youth. Individuals in the LGBTQ community, as well as veterans and members of Indigenous communities face unique challenges that contribute to their increased vulnerability to suicide.
Some key facts on suicide from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) include:
The importance of suicide prevention awareness
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month plays a vital role in challenging the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health. By fostering open conversations and promoting awareness, mental health professionals can create a supportive environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking help. Awareness initiatives also aim to educate the public to more easily recognize warning signs and encourage intervention.
Promoting awareness and involvement
In the realm of mental and public health, suicide stands as a formidable adversary that demands our immediate attention. Suicide is a topic that many people do not feel comfortable addressing, even if they sense someone may be struggling. Here are five ways you can promote awareness and engage in honest and public conversations about suicide:
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month serves as a crucial reminder of the importance of addressing suicide as a public health issue. It is essential to raise awareness, promote understanding, and facilitate early intervention. By collaborating with communities, schools, and other organizations, we can collectively work toward reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and providing support to those in need.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The Jason Foundation
The 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotline
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)