Adjusting to college can be difficult for even the most prepared students. But for students who may be struggling with an undiagnosed learning difficulty, the transition can be overwhelming. They may have poor coping skills, increased levels of stress, executive functioning or working memory deficits, low self-esteem, and even significant academic, interpersonal, and psychological difficulties.
The worst part is that many of them don’t know why. According to a National Council on Disability report, as many as 44% of individuals with ADHD were first identified at the postsecondary level.
The Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment (KLDA) is a tool that screens college students for learning difficulties and ADHD in order to give them the answers they need. By screening for learning difficulties and ADHD as well as other issues that affect learning, such as anxiety, memory, and functional problems like organization and procrastination, the KLDA helps to identify those individuals who should seek further assessment so they can get the help they need to succeed in college.
Steven T. Kane, PhD, author of the KLDA took a few minutes to answer some common questions about the product, its development, and the feedback he has received on its impact.
What inspired you to develop the KLDA initially?
Before becoming a professor and researcher, I was employed in a university disability resource center as a psychologist who specialized in learning disabilities and ADHD. I was also previously employed at three of the most diverse community colleges in California. In each of these settings, I saw literally hundreds of students who should have been screened for learning and attentional challenges but never were. I was also shocked, quite frankly, by the number of individuals I saw who clearly suffered from some form of learning or attentional difficulties as adults yet were never screened or tested in the K–12 system.
As most of us are aware, being tested for a learning disability and/or ADHD is very expensive and simply out of reach for the majority of our most at-risk college students. I also found it troubling that almost none of these same students were ever screened for anxiety disorders or memory challenges. Thus, my goal was to develop a screening assessment that was very affordable and easy to take, preferably via the internet.
How does the KLDA differ from competitive measures?
There are actually not a lot of similar measures, which is, again, one of the main reasons why we developed the KLDA. There are two or three other measures that assess study skills, motivation, etc., but not the key academic skills and executive functioning skills the KLDA assesses.
What are some important things clinicians should know about the KLDA?
First, the KLDA was normed on a very large and diverse population from across the U.S. and Canada. Second, the KLDA was completed by more than 5,000 people via the internet for free as we performed factor analyses, perfected item development, etc. Third, the KLDA is very affordable, essentially self-interpreting, and can be administered quickly administered via PARiConnect. Most respondents finish the assessment in about 10 minutes as the items are written at about the fourth through sixth grade reading level. The KLDA can also guide the assessment process and inform which lengthier diagnostic assessments should be administered. Finally, the KLDA is a great discussion prompt to encourage clients to talk about their difficulties across different environments.
What feedback have you received from users on the KLDA and the insight it provides to students?
Thus far, both practitioners and test takers have found the assessment very useful, easy to take, and comment that it leads to very interesting discussions that the respondent has often never had with anyone before.
Anything else you think is important for people to know about the KLDA?
The KLDA is a very flexible product. The assessment can be used by individual clinicians to screen a client before they even meet for the first time. It’s been used by community colleges and universities as part of their orientation process to screen at-risk students before they fail, and study skills and student success instructors have found it extremely useful to administer to a classroom as part of a group assignment. Thanks to PAR’s PARiConnect assessment platform, the assessment can be easily administered to large groups of individuals and at a very low cost.
Learn more about the KLDA
The KLDA is a self-report form that measures academic strengths and weaknesses in key areas, including reading, listening, time management, writing, math, concentration and memory, organization and self-control, oral presentation, and anxiety and pressure. It is useful for all levels of postsecondary education, including vocational schools, technical colleges, community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, and graduate schools.
Visit the KLDA page to learn more!
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.
Assessing specific learning disabilities? Learn more about the Feifer family of products.
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/
Test anxiety is part of life for many college students. After all, it’s natural to worry about performance and want to do well, and mild nervousness before a test can actually improve performance. For most, the symptoms disappear when the test is over. But for students with an anxiety disorder, test anxiety can be overwhelming and all-consuming, leading to symptoms like difficulty concentrating, rapid breathing, dry mouth, and even panic. For these students, the symptoms don’t stop when the test is over.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America, with an estimated 42 million adults diagnosed. About 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life—and half of them develop conditions by the age of 14. Some of these young people will enter college not knowing they suffer from a treatable condition.
Students with undiagnosed anxiety are likely to struggle with physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. They could even be at risk of failing—or dropping—out of school.
The Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment (KLDA) is a self-report screening tool developed to identify college students who struggle with a condition that affects learning such as an anxiety disorder, ADHD, an executive function deficit, or a specific learning disability.
The KLDA can help your students get the help they need to succeed in college. In just 15 minutes, it evaluates key areas including reading, writing, math, organization, time management, anxiety, and more. Administration is available on PARiConnect 3.0, the fastest and most reliable online platform in the assessment industry, so students can complete it on their own time, 24/7.
The KLDA report provides valuable information about the student’s individual learning strengths and weaknesses—and includes tailored interventions and accommodations that address them—and identifies students who are at risk of an undiagnosed condition like anxiety.
Help your struggling students keep their college careers—and their lives—on track with the KLDA.
Teachers and parents have long known that when students are diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, tailored reading interventions and accommodations can help them achieve academic success. However, until a few years ago, there were few legal mandates that defined how (or if) schools should screen for dyslexia and implement interventions. Many students with dyslexia were not being identified, and many of those students who needed help still weren’t getting it.
In 2013, only two states required universal screening for dyslexia in schools. Now, thanks in part to a push for mandatory early screening tests, teacher training, and remediation programs from the grassroots group Decoding Dyslexia, there are only five remaining states that don’t have dyslexia legislation that’s either been passed or is pending.
One of the most common elements of these laws is the implementation of universal dyslexia screening and intervention. However, dyslexia is not a one-size-fits-all reading disorder–there are different subtypes with different symptoms that require different interventions. It is important to screen all students for dyslexia—but it’s just as important to screen accurately to ensure appropriate intervention.
The Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) Screening Form measures phonemic awareness, rapid automatic naming, and semantic concepts and indicates risk of dyslexia in just 15 minutes.
For students who need a more comprehensive evaluation, the FAR's 15 subtests evaluate four specific subtypes of reading disorders: dysphonetic dyslexia, surface dyslexia, mixed dyslexia, and reading comprehension deficits. Dyslexia is a brain-based disorder, and the FAR uses a brain-based approach to measure the underlying cognitive and linguistic processes that support proficient reading skills and inform diagnosis. The available FAR Interpretive Report scores all subtests and includes detailed interpretations and targeted reading interventions based on the student’s age and scores.
Learn more on our free training portal and help your struggling students go FAR.
Test anxiety is a fact of life for most students. They may worry if they studied enough, if they’ll remember everything they studied, and if they’ll pass the class.
College students may feel extra pressure to succeed from their parents (who may be funding their education), their coaches, and their instructors.
For most students, the symptoms of test anxiety (sweaty palms, feelings of helplessness, and difficulty concentrating) end as soon as the test is over. But for students with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder or another issue that affects learning, such as ADHD, depression, specific learning disability, or executive function deficits, the symptoms persist.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder—yet only 36% of them seek treatment. Many may not even realize they have a treatable medical condition.
College students face enormous amounts of stress, and not just from tests. For some, it’s the first time away from home and the first time they’ve had to manage and organize their lives independently. These students can easily get overwhelmed. If they have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder or ADHD, they may have poor coping skills and suffer from feelings of incompetence, low self-esteem, and helplessness. Their grades may slip and they may even be at risk of dropping out of school. Teachers and other staff may notice but may not know how to help.
The Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment (KLDA) is a self-report screening tool designed to identify students who struggle unknowingly with a condition that affects learning such as an anxiety disorder, ADHD, an executive function deficit, or a specific learning disability.
The KLDA can be administered by any instructor, counselor, tutor, or coach and takes just 15 minutes to complete. It evaluates difficulties with reading, writing, math, listening, concentration, memory, organization, time management, oral presentation, self-control, and anxiety. The test is scored online via PARiConnect and provides a report with valuable information about the student’s individual learning strengths and weaknesses. It also identifies if the student is at risk of an undiagnosed learning difficulty so he or she can seek treatment.
The KLDA report helps both students and teachers by providing specific interventions and accommodations that address the student’s identified academic weaknesses.
The sooner struggling students can get the help they need, the sooner they can get their college careers back on track. Learn more at www.parinc.com/KLDA.
The Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) is a comprehensive reading assessment that uses a neurological approach to determine if a student is at risk for specific subtypes of dyslexia. It is useful for educators, reading specialists, and school psychologists not only because it identifies a possible cause of reading difficulties—but also because it offers intervention recommendations based on the student’s specific type of reading difficulty. It truly helps put the individual back in an Individualized Education Program.
The new FAR Interpretive Report takes this individualized approach a step further, using scores from all 16 FAR tasks as well as index scores and index discrepancy scores to provide targeted reading considerations and strategies based on research from more than 200 current reading programs. Don’t spend hours researching reading strategies and intervention tools–we’ve done the work for you! With the click of your mouse, you have the information you need to help your students succeed.
Save even more time by copying and pasting report recommendations directly from the FAR Interpretive Report into other documents.
The FAR Interpretive Report is available only on PARiConnect, our online assessment platform. Not yet connected? Sign up now and get your first three administrations and reports for free!
Learn more about the FAR.