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Documenting Student Learning & Specific Learning Disabilities. Objectives. By the end of this week you should: Understand how to document student progress in the general education curriculum. Understand relevant vocabulary related to SLD. Be able to identify students who are at risk for SLD.

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By the end of this week you should:

  • Understand how to document student progress in the general education curriculum.
  • Understand relevant vocabulary related to SLD.
  • Be able to identify students who are at risk for SLD.
  • Understand the components of research-based reading programs.
key vocabulary
Response to Intervention

Severe discrepancy


Specific learning disability (SLD or LD)

Dyslexia (reading, decoding, & spelling)

Dysgraphia (writing, handwriting)

Mnemonics (acronyms and acrostics)



Phonological Awareness

Phonemic Awareness

Orthographic Awareness

Alphabetic Principle

Comprehensive Monitoring Strategies

Developmental arithmetic disorder

Nonverbal math disabilities

Dyscalculia (math concepts and computation)

Curriculum-based measurement (CBM)

Key Vocabulary
what should i do when a student is struggling in my class
What should I do when a student is struggling in my class?
  • Start a confidential file on a secure computer.
  • Describe the student in a one paragraph narrative that concludes w/ your concerns.
  • Identify the student’s current levels of functional performance in each of the following domains: academic, social, emotional/behavioral - one paragraph overview from IST pre-referral.
  • Begin to create a database so that you can chart the student’s progress over time.
  • Identify and implement research-based instructional strategies.
  • Build a relationship with the parents.
how should i document student learning
How should I document student learning?
  • Use the academic categories from the IEP.
  • Create three means of collecting evidence: 1) a portfolio system, 2) a spread sheet with graphing capabilities, and 3) a narrative that summarizes the student’s performance using quantitative and qualitative data.

REMEMBER - The purpose of this documentation is to inform your instructional strategies and chart student growth over time and across interventions.

academic areas of focus
Listening comprehension

Oral expression

Basic reading skills (alphabetic principle, decoding, phonemic awareness, fluency, semantics)

Reading comprehension

Basic writing skills (handwriting, spelling, grammar)

Written expression

Math computation

Math reasoning

Problem solving

Academic areas of focus
basic reading skills
Basic Reading Skills
  • While Sara possesses strong listening comprehension and oral expression skills, she struggles with basic reading skills. For example, during a Pre-Primer Subject Word List screening using the Qualitative Reading Inventory- 4, Sara scored in the 60th percentile or frustration level. She was unable to automatically identify the words “children”, “other”, “animal”, “place”, “every”, “thing”, “write”, and “live”. Sara is often unable to read words containing complex letter patterns (e.g., -ought, -aught). She has difficulty decoding multi-syllabic words (i.e., two and three syllable). When prompted she is able to use prefixes and suffixes to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words 50% of the time.

Sample Documentation

using data to inform instruction
Using data to inform instruction

Sara’s Reading Performance



Results of FBA











le class



Jimboユs Daily Schedule:





Arrive at school













Language Arts with Ms



9:00 -



Social Studies





Gym or Cu


rent Events


























Specials (Music, Art)





Study Hall





Technology, Dram





document student performance
Document Student Performance
  • Peer edit the performance reports you completed last week. After you are all in agreement regarding the content, choose a common visual format to report the student’s progress (e.g., bar graph). Each of you will construct a chart or graph for your specific academic areas and create at least one artifact to demonstrate the student’s work.
reading is the primary problem
Reading is the Primary Problem
  • 12.5 million children struggle with reading - this represents nearly 20% of all school age children (NCES, 2003).
  • 80% of all children identified as SLD have primarily deficits in reading.
  • 90% of children with SLD in reading have problems with decoding skills.
  • 74% of children who are poor readers in the third grade remain poor readers in the ninth grade.
  • Reading problems occur primarily at the single word level.
  • Approx 30% of children need explicit instruction in order to become proficient decoders.
  • Inaccurate decoding is the best predictor of poor reading comprehension.
disability categories in washington
Developmentally Delayed (age 3 - 8)

Emotional Behavioral Disability

Speech or language impairment

Orthopedically impairment

Other Health impaired

Specific learning disability

Mental retardation

Multiple disabilities

Hearing impairment / Deafness

Visually impairment / blindness

Deaf / blindness


Traumatic brain injury

Disability Categories in Washington
who is eligible for special education under idea
Who is eligible for special education under IDEA?

Students who demonstrate the characteristics of any of the previous categories IF their disability adversely effects educational performance and requires specialized instruction

Approximately 13% of school-age children are identified as having disabilities.

Half of the population with disabilities have SLD

(NCES, 2005).

defining sld
Defining SLD
  • The definition of SLD is changing (IDEA 2004)
  • Sometimes called the “invisible disability”
  • Unexpected difficulty / low performance
  • Inefficient processing in the area of disability
  • “… a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical computations.”
early warning signs of sld
Early Warning Signs of SLD

The following behaviors may indicate that a child has a specific learning disability:

  • Slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
  • Difficulty "sounding out" unknown words
  • Repeatedly misidentifying known words
  • Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including letter reversals (b/d), inversions (m/w), transpositions (felt/left), and substitutions (house/home)
  • Transposes number sequences and confuses arithmetic signs (+, -, x, /, =)
  • Difficulty understanding or remembering what is read because so much time and effort is spent figuring each word

Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities (1999). How children learn to read.

Retrieved September 2, 2006 from

not sld if

The deficit is primarily the result of:

  • Hearing, visual, or motor disability
  • MR (mental retardation)
  • SBD (serious behavioral disorder)
  • Environmental, cultural, economic disadvantage
sld determination
SLD Determination
  • School districts have two means to determine if a student qualifies as having a learning disability:
    • Severe discrepancy model (Classic)
    • Response to Intervention (IDEA 2004)

Lyon, R. G., Fletcher, J. M., Shaywitz, S. E., Shaywitz, B. A., Torgesson, J. K., Wood, F. B., et al. (2001). Rethinking learning disabilities. In C. E. Finn, A. J. Rotherham, & C. R. Hokanson (Eds.), Rethinking special education for a new century (p. 270).


Mental Retardation

MR IQ cut points: 50 - 70 = mild

35 - 50 = moderate

20 - 35 = severe

Below 20 = profound

response to intervention rti
Response to Intervention (RTI)
  • IDEA 2004 regulations state:

“The criteria adopted by the State [to determine the child’s eligibility as SLD] must permit the use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific, research-based intervention” Section 300.307 (a) (2)

defining rti
Defining RTI

“…an assessment and intervention process for systematically monitoring student progress and making decisions about the need for instructional modifications or increasingly intensified services using progress monitoring data.”

The National Research Center on Learning Disabilities (NRCLD, 2006)

seven core principles of rti
Seven Core Principles of RTI
  • Use all available resources to teach students
  • Use scientific, research-based instruction
  • Monitor classroom performance
  • Conduct universal screening / benchmarking
  • Use a multi-tier model of service delivery
  • Make data-based decisions
  • Monitor progress frequently
three tier model of school supports
Three-Tier Model of School Supports



Intensive Interventions

Intensive Interventions

Individual students

Targeted assessment-based

Progress monitoring 1x per week

Individual students

Targeted assessment-based

Progress monitoring 1x per week

Strategic Interventions

Strategic Interventions

Some at-risk students

High efficiency

Progress monitoring 2x per month

Some at-risk students

High efficiency

Progress monitoring 2x per month

Core Interventions

Core Interventions

All students

Preventative / proactive

Students benchmarked 3x per year

on core academic skills

All students

Preventative / proactive

Students benchmarked 3x per year

on social/behavior skills

key terms
Key Terms
  • Fidelity - the extent to which the instruction is implemented as planned.
  • Universal screening (Tier I) - benchmarking of academic, social skills, and behavior (fall, winter, & spring).
  • Curriculum-based measurement (CBM) - a means to measure student development over time.
  • Strategic interventions (Tier II)
    • Short-term (9 - 12 weeks) interventions provided to small groups of students (3 - 6) where remedial instruction occurs in a core academic, social skills, or behavioral area (e.g., phonemic awareness).
    • Three to four sessions per week
    • 30 - 60 min. per session.
    • Progress monitoring biweekly (minimum)
  • Intensive interventions (Tier III) -
    • Small group (3 or less) or individual instruction
    • May be for 12 weeks or more
    • Up to two 30 min sessions daily
    • Weekly progress monitoring (minimum)
rti is a problem solving process
RTI is a Problem Solving Process
  • RTI is a flexible service delivery model
  • Define the problem
  • Analyze the cause - this requires a conceptual shift from the problem occurring in the student to a need for improvement educational environment “What can we as educators do differently?”
  • Develop a plan
  • Implement the plan
  • Evaluate the plan
what this means to you
What This Means to You
  • Document concerns as soon as possible
  • Discuss your concerns with people who know the student
  • Follow the problem solving process
  • Clearly articulate each aspect of the process in your pre-referral
  • Build time into your daily schedule to provide Tier II supports to students (not an add on)
what students need to learn to read
What Students Need to Learn to Read

1. Phonological Awareness: Sensitivity to the sound structure (rather than the meaning) of speech

2. Phonemic Awareness: The ability to deal explicitly and segmentally with sound units smaller than the syllable (i.e., phonemes)

3. Alphabetic Principle: The insight that written words are composed of letters of the alphabet that are intentionally and conventionally related to segments of spoken words

4. Orthographic Awareness: Sensitivity to the structure of the writing system (spelling patterns, orthographic rules, inflectional and derivational morphology, etymology)

5. Comprehensive Monitoring Strategies: Strategies that help students attend to and remember what they read

Foorman, B., Fletcher, J., & Francis, D. (1997). A scientific approach to reading instruction. Retrieved September 02, 2006 from

effective reading instruction
Effective Reading Instruction
  • Students learn to read in a certain order:
    • First they must recognize that words are comprised from different sounds
    • Second they must associate sounds with written words
    • Finally they must decode words and read groups of words.
  • Students who struggle with reading need systemic, explicit instruction regarding the relationships of letters, words and sounds. (These relationships are the main tool proficient readers use to decode unfamiliar words.)
  • Each child will need a different amount of practice to become a fluent reader.
  • Phonics instruction should be based on individual student needs and taught as part of a comprehensive, literature-based reading program.
children have opportunities to expand their use and appreciation of oral language

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to expand their use and appreciation of oral language

Kindergarten and first-grade language instruction should focus on listening, speaking, and understanding while including:

  • Discussions that focus on a variety of topics, including problem solving
  • Activities that help children understand the world around them (relevant learning activities)
  • Songs, chants, and poems that are fun to sing and say
  • Concept development and vocabulary-building lessons
  • Games and other activities that involve talking, listening and following directions

Texas Education Agency (1996). 12 Components of Research-Based Reading Programs.

Retrieved September 2, 2006 from

children have opportunities to expand their use and appreciation of printed language

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to expand their use and appreciation of printed language
  • Activities that help children to understand that print represents spoken language
  • Activities that highlight the meanings, uses, and production of print found in classroom signs, labels, notes, posters, calendars, and directions
  • Activities that teach print conventions, such as directionality
  • Activities in which children practice how to handle a book-how to turn pages, how to find the tops and bottoms of pages, and how to tell the front and back covers (be explicit!)
  • Lessons in word awareness that help children become conscious of individual words, for example, their boundaries, their appearance and their length
  • Activities in which children practice with predictable and patterned language stories
children have opportunities to learn decoding strategies

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to learn decoding strategies

Instruction should introduce "irregular" words in a reasonable sequence and use these words in the program's reading materials. Effective decoding instruction is explicit and systematic and can include the following:

  • Practice in decoding and identifying words that contain letter-sound relationships
  • Practice activities that involve word families and rhyming patterns
  • Practice activities that involve blending together the components of sounded-out words
  • "Word play" activities in which children change beginning, middle, or ending letters of related words, thus changing the words they decode and spell
  • Introduction of phonetically "irregular" words in practice activities and stories
children have opportunities to write and relate their writing to spelling and reading

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to write and relate their writing to spelling and reading

Increasing children's awareness of spelling patterns hastens their progress in both reading and writing. In the early grades, spelling instruction must be coordinated with the program of reading instruction

  • Activities that are related to the words that children are reading and writing
  • Proofreading activities
  • An emphasis on pride in correct spelling
  • Lessons that help children attend to spelling conventions in a systematic way
  • Activities that surround children in words and make reading and writing purpose-filled
children have opportunities to read and comprehend a wide assortment of books and other texts

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to read and comprehend a wide assortment of books and other texts

As children develop effective decoding strategies and become fluent readers, they must read books and other texts that are less controlled in their vocabulary and sentence structure. They learn to use word order (syntax) and context to interpret words and understand their meanings

Classrooms that ensure wide reading provide the following:

  • Daily time for self-selected reading
  • Access to books children want to read in their classrooms and school libraries
  • Access to books that can be taken home to be read independently or to family members

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to develop and comprehend new vocabulary through wide reading and direct vocabulary instruction

Activities that promote the acquisition of vocabulary include the following:

  • Wide reading of a variety of genres, both narrative and expository
  • Instruction that provides explicit information both about the meanings of words and about how they are used in the stories the children are reading
  • Activities that involve children in analyzing context to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words in a reading passage
  • Discussions of new words that occur during the course of the day, for example in books that have been read aloud by the teacher, in content area studies and in textbooks
  • Activities that encourage children both to use words they are learning in their own writing, and to keep records of interesting and related words

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to learn and apply comprehension strategies as they reflect upon and think critically about what they read

Comprehension strategy instruction can include the following:

  • Activities that help children learn to preview selections, anticipate content, and make connections between what they will read and what they already know
  • Instruction that provides options when understanding breaks down (for example, rereading, asking for expert help, and looking up words)
  • Guidance in helping children compare characters, events, and themes of different stories
  • Activities that encourage discussion about what is being read and how ideas can be linked (for example, to draw conclusions and make predictions)
  • Activities that help children extend their reading experiences though the reading of more difficult texts with the teacher
children have opportunities to understand and manipulate the building blocks of spoken language

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to understand and manipulate the building blocks of spoken language

Children's phonemic awareness, their understanding that spoken words can be divided into separate sounds, is one of the best predictors of their success in learning to read. Instruction that promotes children's understanding and use of the building blocks of spoken language includes the following:

  • Language games that teach children to identify rhyming words and to create rhymes on their own
  • Activities that help children understand that spoken sentences are made up of groups of separate words, that words are made up of syllables, and that words can be broken down into separate sounds
  • Auditory activities in which children manipulate the sounds of words, separate or segment the sounds of words, blend sounds, delete sounds, or substitute new sounds for those deleted
children have opportunities to learn about and manipulate the building blocks of written language

Principles of Research-based Reading Instruction

Children have opportunities to learn about and manipulate the building blocks of written language
  • Children must become expert users of the building blocks of written language. Knowledge of letters (graphonemes) leads to success with learning to read.
  • This includes the use, purpose, and function of letters.

How can we do this?

  • Alphabetic knowledge activities in which children learn the names of letters and learn to identify them rapidly and accurately
  • A variety of writing activities in which children learn to print the letters that they are learning to identify
  • Writing activities in which children have the opportunity to experiment with and manipulate letters to make words and messages
specific math disabilities
Specific Math Disabilities
  • Dyscalculia - severe difficulty learning mathematical concepts and computation
  • Developmental arithmetic disorder - significant difficulties learning arithmetic despite average cognitive function
  • Nonverbal math disabilities - average verbal and reading skills but extreme difficulty with math concomitant with social immaturity, disorientation, deficits in visual, motor, and self-help skills, problems estimating distance and time.
teaching students with sld in math
Teaching Students with SLD in Math
  • Help students develop a conceptual understanding through direct instruction, application, and authentic problem solving.
  • Present concepts in multiple ways.
  • Utilize concrete representational  abstract instructional process.
  • Teach mathematical language explicitly - the same way you teach reading.
  • Include written number symbols at all stages so that students make the connection between conceptual and abstract connections.
the instruction continuum
The Instruction Continuum
  • Concrete
    • Use dramatization, role-play, & three dimensional objects so that students physically experience & visualize the concept.
    • Use manipulatives to demonstrate & model the concept.
  • Representational
    • Use two-dimensional pictures and drawings to demonstrate the same concept.
    • Have students construct their own drawings and pictures to demonstrate their understanding of the concept.
  • Abstract
    • Remove manipulatives so that students use numbers only.
    • Students demonstrate memorization and fluency
consider the structure of the lesson
Consider the Structure of the Lesson

Different concepts require different lesson structures.

  • Compare and contrastlesson- fractions, weight, & measurement standards.
  • Example vs.. nonexample lesson - shapes (e.g., polygon).
  • Step by step lesson - mathematical operations (e.g., multiplication, division, etc.).
teach mathematics as a language
Teach Mathematics as a Language
  • Evaluate the students current vocabulary knowledge.
  • Preteach if necessary before teaching new concepts.
  • Use consistent terminology (e.g., times or multiplied by).
  • Avoid language that is above the students cognitive level until they have mastered the concept.
  • Provide students with activities that allow them to use terms orally.
  • Provide opportunities for students to explain their ideas, reasoning, and comment on other students thoughts (e.g., discussion, journals, dialogue boxes).
make math real
Make Math Real
  • Invite guest speakers to discuss how they apply math concepts related to the lesson in their jobs.
  • Use authentic problems (e.g., shopping).
  • Use student interests when developing problems.
  • Problem solving software.
  • Video Vignettes.
explicit instruction
Explicit Instruction
  • Advanced organizers
    • Provide prerequisite knowledge
    • Clearly state objectives
    • Provide rationale for learning the concept
  • Modeling (I do)
    • Step by step instructions using multiple modalities
    • Verbalize your thinking as you solve the problem
    • Ask students to contribute
  • Guided Practice (We do)
    • Students complete the task with assistance from teacher and peers.
  • Independent Practice (You do)
    • Should align closely with modeling
    • Set high mastery criteria (e.g., 90%)
effective math instruction
Effective Math Instruction
  • Teach individual concepts explicitly
  • Have students demonstrate mastery before proceeding to the next concept
  • Teach math skills in context with real world applications
  • Use manipulatives
  • Graphic organizers
  • Model a “think aloud” problem solving approach
  • Teach procedures and strategies by modeling, guiding, and independent practice.
  • Allow students additional time to complete assignments to mastery