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OS SLD Guidance: A Presentation for Local District Special Educators. Oakland Schools October 2011. The OS SLD Document is designed to: provide background information review critical requirements of the IDEA Federal Regulations

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Presentation Transcript

The OS SLD Document is designed to:

  • provide background information
  • review critical requirements of the IDEA Federal Regulations
  • provide examples of how to operationalize the regulations consistent with the direction from the USDOE and MDE.
  • The OS SLD document is not and has never intended to be specific procedures.
  • US children ranked poorly on the ability to read with comprehension and apply mathematical thinking.
  • Numbers are even higher for minority students, students with lower socioeconomic status and students receiving special education.
  • About half of the students receiving special education services are eligible as LD and the majority of those students exhibit primary difficulties in learning to read.

Since the inception of Learning Disabilities as

an eligibility category in the 1970’s, the difficulty

of operationalizing the diagnosis of a specific

learning disability (SLD) has plagued special


  • The USDOE operationalized the SLD construct, they based it on the available research at the time (Rutter and Yule 1975); however, this study has not withstood further scientific research over the past three decades.
  • Despite the research, the IQ-Achievement discrepancy model has had a profound impact on the conceptualization of SLD. Researchers, practitioners, and the public continued to believe that discrepancy is a marker for specific types of SLD and distinct from other forms of underachievement.
  • The heavy emphasis on the discrepancy model has detracted notably from focusing on prevention, early identification and intervention with students at risk.
  • There is also high variability in identification rates across the states, districts, and even school buildings within a district.
  • There has been overrepresentation of minority students in special education and poor outcomes for students who receive special education.
  • Many of the children who have been identified as SLD are considered curriculum casualties.

The special education system has become

overburdened, interventions are not typically

“specialized” and it has become increasingly

difficult to distinguish between students with

low achievement due to a lack of adequate

instruction and those with a true SLD.

nclb esea
  • Re-Authorized in 2001
  • Goal of 100% of students meeting proficiency benchmarks in mathematics and reading by 2014
  • Encouraged the use of scientifically-based research as the foundation for K-3 reading instruction
  • Requires screening and progress monitoring of students and professional development for all teachers
  • Renewed emphasis on accountability, student outcomes, data-based decision-making , and the use of research-based methods and interventions.
idea 2004
IDEA 2004
  • Major shift in SLD identification practices
  • Deliberate effort to connect principles of ESA with the requirements of IDEA
  • Congress gave states the option to address the major shortcomings of the discrepancy model, putting increased emphasis on appropriate research-based instruction
  • District could spend up to 15% of their IDEA Part B funds on preventative, early intervening services for at-risk, general education students.
idea 20041
IDEA 2004

IDEA 2004 provides several options regarding the use of inclusionary procedures of SLD identification including:

  • Permitting or requiring response to scientific, research-based intervention
  • Permitting or prohibiting ability-achievement discrepancy
  • Omitting, permitting or requiring a third alternative model of other research-based procedures
a significant change in practice
A Significant Change in Practice

“The regulations reflect the USDOEs position on the identification of children with SLD and our support for models that focus on assessments that are related to instruction and promote intervention for identified children. Consensus reports indicate a need for major changes in the approach to identifying children with SLD. Models that incorporate RtI represent a shift in Special Education toward goals of better achievement and improved behavioral outcomes for children with SLD because the children who are identified under such models are most likely to require Special Education.”

(Federal Regulations, pg. 46647)


What sense do you make of this data?

What sense do you make of this data?

33.3% Oakland County Average

oakland schools perspective on the sld construct
Oakland Schools Perspective on the SLD Construct
  • SLD is a valid construct manifested by difficulties in the acquisition of academic skills.
  • Not all academic problems are learning disabilities.
  • SLD exists on a continuum of severity and any established cut-point is essentially arbitrary. However, SLD clearly represents the lower end of the achievement distribution and is a matter of degree.
  • Identification of SLD does require the presence of low achievement.
  • A hallmark of SLD is that the low achievement is unexpected and uncommon. The manifestation of SLD is influenced by the complex interactions of variables within the instructional environment. Chief among these interactions is the concept of the instructional match.
  • Students with an SLD exhibit underlying cognitive differences in their performance. However, ―cognitive deficits do not reliably indicate a biological causation; SLD is an integration of biology and environmental factors” (Fletcher et al., 2009).

Vision of Special Education Service Delivery

Keep the discrepancy model under PSW even though it is discouraged and can never be used exclusively to determine SLD.

Use data from the district’s RtI process to document interventions and student progress for the purpose of determining the existence of SLD.

Move to PSW with Cognitive Processing at the center. This may not be different from what many teams have been doing for years.

Choose a PSW model with academic achievement and instruction at the center. This would position your district for implementation of RtI in the future.

Decision options

Does the option I am considering fit with the spirit of the USDOE?

Will this option solve the achievement gap that exists in my district?

How does this option accurately distinguish between underachievement and SLD?

Will this emphasize prevention, early identification and treatment?

Does my decision impact the problem?

purpose of the os document
Purpose of the OS Document

The purpose of this document is both to assist districts in complying with all state rules and federal regulations regarding SLD, and to encourage districts to make a long-term plan for reshaping identification practices. It is not intended to mandate an approach, nor is it intended to establish a single methodology for SLD identification across the county.

The intended audience for this document includes special education directors and supervisors, and the MET representatives who have a role in developing district procedures for the identification of SLD. Decisions about practice implications cannot and should not be made at the ISD level.

os sld project
OS SLD Project

Document Roll-out

  • PPT General Education - Nuts and Bolts
  • SB-CEU Self-Study Course

Technical Assistance

  • Sample Procedures
  • Facilitated Study Group to Examine Procedures
  • Stakeholders Meetings (2011-12; 3 meetings) targeting the FAQ Document
  • Electronic PSW Form
  • Survey of practices in Oakland County over time (survey)


    • Assessment of Specific Learning Disabilities (01/6/12)
    • On-line, Intensive 8 week course (01/10/11; 03/19/12)
os sld team
  • Dr. Susan M. Koceski, School Psychologist 248.209.2536
  • Abby Cypher-Kitchen, Special Education Consultant 248.209.2577
  • Matt Korolden, Compliance Consultant 248.209.2552
  • Carly Staunton, System Design Consultant 248.209.2074
  • Karen Rockhold, Supervisor 248.209.2286

Additional Training and Product Support

  • Bill Barley
  • Pam Allen
  • Deborah Norton