Volume 19, Issue 1 (1990)
Critical Variables in the Learning Disabilities Identification Process
Kenneth W. Merrell & Mark R. Shinn
This study investigated the cognitive ability, academic achievement, and socialbehavioral competencies of a group of 80 students referred for academic problems, and the relationship of these data to learning disability classification decisions by multidisciplinary teams. Forty of the subjects were classified as learning disabled (LD group) and 40 were not identified as handicapped (NLD group). Significant differences between the two groups were found on combined measures, academic achievement, and cognitive ability variables. However, the variables found to correlate most highly with the LD classification decision were reading and written language achievement scores. The entire study group was significantly lower than typical (norm population) students on all measures, including social-behavioral competencies. The data from this investigation indicated that (a) low levels of academic achievement appeared to be the most critical variable in the LD classification decision, and (b) teacher referral in itself appeared to be a powerful variable in identifying students struggling both academically and socially. Implications of this study are discussed for practices in LD service delivery.
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