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“PSW” – What’s It All About?”. Borrowed from: Lee Ann Sharman, M.S. Lewis and Clark College Graduate School of Education/Counseling. Remember the Statutory Definition of LD.

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psw what s it all about

“PSW” – What’s It All About?”

Borrowed from:

Lee Ann Sharman, M.S.

Lewis and Clark College

Graduate School of Education/Counseling

remember the statutory definition of ld
Remember the Statutory Definition of LD
  • The term “specific learning disability” means 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 an imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
  • The term does not include children who have learning disabilities which are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor handicaps, or mental retardation, or emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage (USOE, 1968).
simply put
Simply Put…..
  • A learning disability is a neurologically based problem that affects how someone processes information.
information processing the central nervous system
Information Processing:The Central Nervous System
  • Refers to how we PERCEIVE or UNDERSTAND spoken or written language.

Auditory Thinking Speaking

Visual (Abstract-Concrete) Reading

Tactile Memory Writing

Olfactory (Auditory-Visual) Motor

Gustatory (Long Term-Short Term) (Fine-Gross)

Sequencing Fluency/Speed

Organization Accuracy


  • We’ve tried to “operationalize” this construct in different ways, without the accuracy we need:

RtI + PSW (Processing!)




brought to you from the folks who brought us the irs changes to sld eligibility

Brought to You From the Folks Who Brought Us the IRS: Changes to SLD eligibility

Added option of RtI (based on district model)

Added progress monitoring component (both)

Changed “Severe discrepancy” to “Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses” (PSW)

Observation, before or during (both)

Exclusionary factors remain (both)

sld evaluation components both rti psw
SLD Evaluation Components – Both RTI & PSW
  • Academic assessment (academic achievement toward age and/Oregon grade level standards)
  • Review of cumulative records, IEPs, teacher collected work samples
  • Observation in learning environment (by qualified professional) – before or during
  • Progress monitoring data
    • Look at the instruction student has received
    • Examine their progress – how much and how fast?
sld evaluation components both if needed
SLD Evaluation Components – Both (if needed)
  • Developmental history
  • Assessment of cognition, fine motor, perceptual motor, communication, social-emotional, memory (if student exhibits impairment in one or more of these areas)
  • Medical statement
  • Impact of disability on educational performance
just what is patterns of strengths and weaknesses
Just What IS “Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses”?
  • Based on CHC theory and a Cross-Battery approach
  • Differs from the discrepancy model in that the data we are looking for is more relevant to the areas of underachievement
psw cont d
PSW, cont’d.
  • Examines specificcognitive processes that are related to the academic area of concern; reduces focus on FS IQ or GIA
  • Cognitive abilities that do not relate to the area of concern should be average or above
psw criteria or building the plane while we are flying it
PSW Criteria – Or, Building the Plane While We Are Flying It…
  • Standard score in one of the achievement areas that is below the average range (below SS = 85)
  • At least one cognitive “critical ability” for the targeted area is below average range (below SS = 85)
  • Cognitive abilities (2,3,4?) that do not relate to area of concerns are average or above (suggested score of above 92)
so what critical abilities are we talking about
So What “Critical Abilities” Are We Talking About?
  • CHC Theory classifies abilities according to three levels (handout):
    • General (GIA)
    • Broad (The “Big 7” Factors)
    • Narrow (70 “feeders”)
suggested chc critical cognitive abilities
Suggested CHC “Critical Cognitive Abilities”
  • For Reading: Comp/know., auditory processing, long-term retrieval, processing speed, working memory
  • For Math: Fluid reasoning, Comp/know., working memory, processing speed
  • For Writing: Comp/know., fluid reasoning, long-term retrieval
best practice sld identification
Best Practice SLD Identification?
  • ODE now suggests that districts craft a model that uses BOTH RtI and Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses for evaluating students suspected of having a learning disability.
  • WJ-III lends itself well for the purpose of looking at patterns strengths and weaknesses based on CHC Theory
an integrated model
An Integrated Model
  • An integrated model for a comprehensive assessment might look like this:

First, SB reading curriculum for all, universal screening!

Tier 1:

Additional reading instruction, progress monitoring

Tier 2:

Increase intensity/frequency of intervention, progress monitoring; change program

Tier 3:

Move to a special ed evaluation to pinpoint Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses.

a real life example
A Real-Life Example
  • After Tier 2 of RtI, Sally has not responded to intervention…she is referred for an evaluation:

Academic Subtests Cognitive Subtest

LWID = 79 Comp/Know = 96

Pseudoword = 74 Aud. Proc. = 69

Fluency = 72 Long-TR = 94

Proc. Spd = 91

Fluid. Res. = 89

a different scenario
A Different Scenario
  • Student fails to respond to intervention, and is referred for an evaluation:

Academic Subtests Cognitive Subtests

LWID = 73 Comp./Know. = 79

Pseudoword = 69 Ga = 74

Fluency = 78 Gsm = 85

Passage Comp. = 81 Gf = 78

Gv = 86

Glr = 82

Gs = 92

psw the pros
PSW – The Pros
  • Addresses “processing” component of SLD definition (not identified by RtI)
  • Provides valuable information about your student’s learning profile and how they process information
  • Leads to better accommodations and if necessary, modifications
psw limitations
PSW - Limitations
  • Aptitude-Treatment Interaction research shows we can’t fix it!
  • Guard against returning to outdated “learning styles” language
  • Designed to change what we do instructionally – will it actually make a difference to kids in the classroom?
tune in next time
Tune In Next Time….

Will RtI + PSW = AYP in the LRE?