Author(s)

Jennifer Garwood

Date Approved

4-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. Reading Education

Department

Language, Literacy, and Special Education

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Browne, Susan

Subject(s)

Learning disabled children--Identification

Disciplines

Elementary Education and Teaching

Abstract

Many studies have examined changes in state legislation and guidance in response to IDEIA (2004) with regard to identification of specific learning disability (SLD). However, it is difficult to find research examining the diagnostic practices for SLD within various states. Investigators in the present study aim to isolate the significant features of practices used to identify SLD in New Jersey, delineate relationships between district characteristics and diagnostic practices, and detect trends in the use of response to intervention (RTI). This qualitative research study utilizes an illuminative evaluation model, in which survey and interview data was analyzed to explore aspects of diagnostic practices that reflect or conflict with research-based understandings of reading disability. An analysis of the data reveals that there is a strong reliance on severe discrepancy (SD) methods in the identification of SLD within NJ, a finding that conflicts with current research about the diagnosis of reading disability. The study shows a very slow progression in the growth of RTI programs, a practice that allows for early, targeted intervention and identification of reading disabilities. The data reveals a lack of correlations between diagnostic methods and demographic characteristics. The collective data also demonstrates considerable variation within the methods that are being employed. Inconsistencies within both SD and RTI approaches raise concerns about the reliability of each method.

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