A recently published study examined identification of students with learning disabilities in Florida schools. The authors were exploring why more boys than girls are identified with learning disabilities. They tried to determine whether it is because girls are less likely to be referred for evaluation or because boys are actually more likely to have a learning disability. The study examined over 400,000 students and tested all for reading and vocabulary to determine how many of them were actually reading-impaired. That number was then used to calculate whether more boys than girls were, in reality, reading impaired (they were) and determine whether the schools’ identification of more boys than girls with a reading disability was out of line (it wasn’t).
The study’s other findings however included something far more interesting to parents than gender ratio. Approximately 20% of the students tested were identified as reading-impaired by the researchers. The school had identified very few of these students. In fact, only 1 out of 4 boys and 1 out of 7 girls who the researchers identified as reading-impaired had been identified by the schools as being learning disabled. That means the school was catching less than 20% of its impaired readers!
The author suggests that this may be because schools lack a consistent definition of learning disability and still rely heavily on the IQ-achievement discrepancy model for identification. That may well be the case. I sincerely hope that research will continue to explore how and why public schools miss so many of our struggling readers so that this system can be improved.
But I am a therapist and a teacher. While I long to see improvement in the public system, I firmly believe that the children currently in the system cannot wait. Even if public schools helped reading and writing impaired kids achieve grade-level literacy (which is often not the case), far too many students never qualify to receive those services!
If you suspect your child has dyslexia, don’t wait for your school to meet his or her needs. Chances are, they won’t or can’t. Take our free online dyslexia test and contact us to begin individualized reading instruction for your child!
Since 2003, Tori has been a committed special educator, working as an elementary special education teacher. Her drive to improve outcomes for her students with dyslexia led her to the Neuhaus Education Center, where she was trained in Orton-Gillingham the summer after her first year of teaching. "I was so frustrated as a first year teacher, not knowing how to meet my students' needs. I spent the entire summer learning about dyslexia and was thrilled by my students' progress the next year!" Since then, she has used the method in English and Spanish with students in three states. In 2009, Tori completed her M.Ed. in Special Education at the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, where she focused on educational strategies for students with learning disabilities. Tori joined the Lexercise team full-time in early 2014 after seeing students online for over a year. When she is not working, Tori loves to read, cook, garden, and spend as much time outdoors as possible.