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Imagine Meaningful Evaluation: Using Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses to Identify and Help Children with Specific Learning Disabilities

WSASP 2013 Conference

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Transcript of Imagine Meaningful Evaluation: Using Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses to Identify and Help Children with Specific Learning Disabilities

A simple approach
Imagine

Meaningful Evaluation
Using Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses
to Identify and Help Children with Specific Learning Disabilities

Michael Self-Bence, M.A., M.Ed.
2012 WSASP School Psychologist of the Year
To add to my troubles...a perhaps overly seasoned colleague told me our evaluations amount to...
And then something invigorating happened!
My mentor and colleague, Dr. Dysa Kafoury, beseeched me not to give up cognitive -educational evaluation
...because of ALL we can
learn to help students
She also taught me the value of talking with parents, teachers, and students
...because evaluation
is MORE than testing
Nearly a decade since IDEA 2004
RTI continues to be a work in progress
Many continue to use severe discrepancy
I graduated from the UW Seattle and became a school psychologist in 2001
...and I was immediately troubled
How do we get here?
when evaluating for
learning disabilities
Cross-Battery
Assessment
A simple
way to explain cognition & learning
Getting Started!
First steps!
Imagine
Imagine instruction guided by evaluation insights into the unique learning needs of complex learners.
Imagine having an evaluation framework, grounded in science and best practice, that looks at the whole child.
Imagine having a simple way to talk about cognition, learning, and evaluation results - a way that parents, teachers, and even older students can understand.
IDEA2004 offered new avenues to the identification of children with “Specific Learning Disabilities” (SLD).
The way our SLD WACs are written, SLD eligibility can be established
five ways:
Our WACs permit using Patterns of
Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW):
WAC 392-172A-03055 Specific learning disability–Determination: “When considering eligibility under (a) of this subsection [RTI or Severe Discrepancy], the group may also consider whether the student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, state grade level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, and through review of existing data.”
1) Severe Discrepancy
(using the State “Severe Discrepancy” Tables)
(to conclude that that there really is a severe discrepancy not shown by the application of the tables)
Districts are no longer required
to use severe discrepancy,
Professional Basis for PSW:
The Learning Disabilities Association of America’s 2010 White Paper on Evaluation, Identification, and Eligibility Criteria for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities
QUESTION 1 - Limited response to
targeted instruction?
How do we find out about LD risk factors?
QUESTION 2 - Are LD risk factors present?
Regarding Hereditary Factors
QUESTION 3 - Are LD achievement
markers present?
LD achievement markers refers to
patterns of normative weaknesses
By talking with parents!
LD risk factors refers to anything that may have impacted the child's brain development:
5 Questions
The Student

Children with dyslexia may
demonstrate unique decoding and
spelling patterns

QUESTION 4 - Are deficits in LD-related
cognitive processes present?
This refers to normative weaknesses in cognitive
"brain skills"...
QUESTION 5 - Can all non-LD explanations
be ruled-out as the primary
cause of low achievement?
5 Questions
What is Cross Battery Assessment (XBA)?
Based on the pioneering work of
Flanagan, Ortiz, and Alfonso (2007),
What "must have" book do I need?
Essentials of Cross-Battery Assessment, 3rd Ed.

Legal Basis
for using Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses
WSASP is currently drafting a guidance paper for using PSW
...so what are we waiting for?
Let's think about PSW!
We all have areas where we GLOW...
and areas where
we can GROW
What is the gist of XBA?
You test academic and cognitive skills trying to answer hypotheses about the student.
Then you use subtests from additional test batteries to help you answer hypotheses that emerge as your assessment unfolds. For example:
Based on classroom
observations, RTI
data, and academic assessment results...
Another school
psychologist first gives
the KABC-2 battery
To TEST HER HYPOTHESIS,
the school psychologist gives
two subtests that measure
working memory
Another school psychologist first gives the WJ-3 Cognitive, Rapid Picture Naming test,

...which measures
rapid automatic
naming or RAN
The school psychologist does NOT want to conclude that the child has reading LD...
The child scores well below
most children his age on
Recall of Sequential Order (SS=75)...
The school psychologist
HYPOTHESIZES that the low score may have been a fluke.
BASIC STEPS IN SIMPLIFIED
XBA APPROACH
1) Give academic tests
in areas of referral concern
2) Plot age-based standard scores
and 68% confidence intervals on
the Academic Skills Profile chart
Use actual 68% C.I.s if available.
Otherwise, estimate them using the Tables for Estimating Confidence Intervals
(my Appendix 4)
3) Give your primary cognitive battery and
plot results on the Profile of Cognitive Skills for Learning chart
You can see that this kiddo demonstrated associative memory like most children his age
...and free recall LTM
and RAN well below most
children his age.
Writing notes in the margins can facilitate interpretation,

...including the narrow
abilities measured,
as well as, details
about how the skills
are measured.
ss to SS
T to SS
SS
4) Look at the Profile of Cognitive
Skills for Learning.

Have you measured all of the
relevant cognitive abilities?
Look at Appendix B to find other tests to measure missing areas and continue to plot results on the charts.
5) In areas where normative weaknesses are
indicated, give additional tests to validate
that low performance was not a fluke and
truly represents a real weakness in
cognitive skill.
Use Appendix B to identify other measures.
6) Interpret visual clusters of scores
Is the child's skill in an area
Like
OR
Different
than most children his/her age?
Is the child's skill in an area
Like
OR
Different
than most children his/her age?
Is the child's skill in an area
Like
OR
Different
than most children his/her age?
7) Finally, identify pattern linkages
SEE:
Rapid Reference 2.1 (p48-51) for Reading
Rapid Reference 2.2 (p55-58) for Math
Rapid Reference 2.3 (p60) for Writing
ALSO SEE Meaningful Evaluation guide pages 11-13
Clustering scores by narrow abilities
(use Appendix B) facilitates interpretation.
Although I had learned many exciting
things from Dr. Virginia Berninger about the brain and learning disabilities
I was required to use severe discrepancy
...a practice that is scientifically invalid and potentially harmful to children
"Compliance Receipts"...that no one reads
And I wondered...
Like the trees that fall in the forest when no one is around...
...do they make a sound?
Do WE make a difference?
no one reads...no onr reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...no one reads...
IDEA 2004 introduced RTI
and PSW ...alternatives
to severe discrepancy!!
School psychologists everywhere imagined new possibilities for helping struggling students!
And there were very heated debates in national and local circles about the future role of cognitive assessment
"Neither ability-achievement
discrepancy analyses ...
"...a “third method” approach
makes the most empirical
and clinical sense"
And PSW "should be used
not only for identification,...
White Paper Expert Panel - "esteemed professionals":
...can now use a process based on student
response to intervention (RTI),

...and MAY consider “patterns of strengths
and weaknesses” (PSW) in identifying SLD.
2) Severe Discrepancy with narrowly defined
“professional judgment”
3) RTI
4) RTI with PSW
5) Severe Discrepancy with PSW
The Classroom
Parents
Form is in Appendix of my "Meaningful Evaluation" guide.
observe child in the classroom
talk with the teacher and intervention providers
review data/evidence showing the impact of targeted instruction in challenges areas
Whether or not formal RTI system is in place...
...if a student has
NOT responded to
good efforts to help
Limited RTI does NOT mean that the child definitely has
a learning disability
Children whose parents experienced math difficulties are at increased risk for math problems.
Children whose parents experienced reading difficulties have a 30 to 60% increased risk for reading problems.
Genetic studies confirm that reading disabilities run in families
The risk is higher when the parent has been formally diagnosed with dyslexia.
Children whose parents experienced spelling difficulties are at increased risk for spelling problems.
...in academic achievement test results that are indicative of LD
Children with word-level
reading disabilities
tend to perform below most children
their age on standardized tests of
sight word reading
decoding unfamiliar words
spelling
Child has another disability
Child has NOT received appropriate instruction

Child has limited English proficiency,
or there are cultural, environmental or economic factors present
(visual, hearing, motor disability; intellectual disability; emotional disturbance)
in reading and math
A practical framework
for considering
information gathered in an
LD evaluation
...known to be important for
academic learning in the
student's areas of challenge
You use a tailored battery of
academic and cognitive tests
...to provide a comprehensive
assessment of every unique
student learner
...within the conceptual framework of
the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory
of cognitive abilities
...strengths and weaknesses are
examined to identify patterns
diagnostic of learning disabilities
What is CHC theory?
The most current and comprehensive theory of cognitive abilities
Grounded in psychometric science and research
Important overlaps with cognitive psychology and the neurosciences
Unlike test-kit specific models of cognition
For example:
VCI, PRI, PSI, WMI (Wechsler)
Verbal, Nonverbal Reasoning, Spatial Abilities (DAS-2)
Pictorial NVIQ, Geometric NVIQ (CTONI-2)
CHC provides a universal framework
useful across many different tests
...which makes it easier
to interpret results
and write reports!
And when CHC is used with simplified language and descriptions...
...it can help parents,
teachers, and even
older students,
understand and
talk about the
learning needs of
complex learners!
XBA - Is it hard?
NO
Will I need to learn some new things?
Will I need to read a book?
YES
YES
Will it really help me
better understand
complex learners?
YES!
YES!
YES!
YES!
Will parents, teachers,
and even older students
have "aha" insights
from evaluation results?
Are there some
ways to simplify it?
Will it make my evaluations more meaningful, and
invigorate my practice?
Rapid Reference 2.1-2.3 includes relations between CHC abilities, neurological processes, and academic skills

Appendix B categorizes cognitive tests by the broad and narrow abilities they measure


CD with the Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix (C-LIM) program for helping to determine the impact of culture and language on performance
examining the instruction
and intervention the
student has received
including assessments of academic and cognitive skills in areas of suspected disability
...because there may be
other non-LD causes
(e.g., instruction is not sufficiently targeted and/or
intensive, kiddo is still learning English, etc.)
Limited RTI does
suggest the child
is "at risk" for LD
A direct conversation
is better than send-home questionnaires
superior information
opportunity to build an authentic relationship
only takes 10-20 minutes
Try gathering developmental information BEFORE
an evaluation referral
Knowledge of LD risk factors can be helpful for the pre-referral/RTI team in intervention planning
(dyslexia)
For example:
"The Itsy Bitsy Spider"
by 7-year-old with dyslexia
For example:
Please keep in mind...
Please keep in mind...
The presence of LD achievement markers does NOT mean that the child definitely has a learning disability
...because there may be
other non-LD causes
(e.g., instruction is not sufficiently targeted and/or
intensive, kiddo is still learning English, etc.)
It does suggest
the child may be
"at risk" for LD
a pattern of psychological processing strengths and deficits, and achievement deficits consistent with this pattern of processing deficits
Remember the
LDAA White Paper?
We are looking for...
For example, we know that...
deficits cause word-level
reading LD
phonetic processing is critical for learning how to read
So if our student
demonstrates:
limited RTI to targeted reading instruction/intervention
achievement markers for reading LD, including normative weakness on measures of word reading
...assuming we can rule-out
non-LD explanations
(e.g., kiddo is still learning English)
We may conclude that
the evidence is diagnostic of reading disability
The presence of LD-risk factors
(e.g., parent has dyslexia)
further strengthens this conclusion
Consider it if you must...
But if the student demonstates:
LD achievement markers
LD-related cognitive deficits
Limited RTI
LD risk factors
If the student demonstrates a pattern of
strengths and weaknesses diagnostic of LD
Establish SPED eligibility under SLD
and provide appropriate services
the school psychologist HYPOTHESIZES the child may
have word-level reading LD.
First, she gives the full WISC-4 battery...
but it does not include measures of phonetic processing
To TEST HER HYPOTHESIS
she gives subtests that measure phonetic processing,
Based on the child' s slower RAN
on the WJ-3 (SS=62), the school psychologist HYPOTHESIZES...
the child may not be as fast as other children his age at retrieving word information from long term memory, a deficit associated with reading LD
based on just one low score that could have been a fluke.
To TEST HIS HYPOTHESIS
the school psychologist gives
other tests of RAN
She HYPOTHESIZES that the child may have challenges with working memory...
the child demonstrates normative weaknesses in memory span (SS=51, SS=60)
but the KABC-2 does not include measures of working memory
DAS-2 Recall Digits Backward and Recall
of Sequential Order
To TEST HER HYPOTHESIS
she gives other tests of working memory
Sound Familiar?
YES, because we already
DO test hypotheses
in our assessments
...to help us interpret results
and guide our evaluation process
How many words is a picture worth to parents of children with LDs...who given heredity, may themselves struggle with listening and reading and remembering...
Imagine how a common visual framework would help others understand?









Imagine how a common visual framework would help others understand?









...and to communicate results
more effectively with our peers
and with parents and teachers!
We ask people who likely have limited statistical training to interpret scores on different scales (ss, T, SS)
"Your child scored 65 on Test A, which is superior...but 65 on Test B in the intellectually disabled range"
We use different test kit descriptions to label the same range of results
On Test A, 90 to 109 is "average"
On Test B, 90 to 110 is "average"
On Test C, 85 to 115 is "average"
We use unnecessarily confusing test kit lingo and psych-ed jargon (psychobabble?)
Verbal IQ (SB-5)
Verbal Comprehension Index (WISC-4)
Verbal Ability Composite (DAS-2)
Gv/Simultaneous Processing (KABC-2)
Even CHC nomenclature
(Gc, Gf, Gs, Ga, Gv, Gsm, Glr)
Our reports often spend more time
describing the various tests given,
than discussing the implications and
deeper meaning for the student.
The student was administered Test A, fourth edition (TA-IV), an individually administered test for children ages...........yields a full-scale composite with a mean of...........there was a statistically significant cluster difference between......was administered Test B (T.B.), an individually administered.....
....student qualifies for reading
We communicate results verbally and in writing...
often with limited pictures
Imagine how a common visual framework would help others understand?









A picture is worth 1000 words
We all have areas where we GLOW...
and areas where
we can GROW
It does suggest
the child may be
"at risk" for LD
Limited RTI does
suggest the child
is "at risk" for LD
School psychologists everywhere imagined new possibilities for helping struggling students!
And there were very heated debates in national and local circles about the future role of cognitive assessment
And there were very heated debates in national and local circles about the future role of cognitive assessment
Although I had learned many exciting
things from Dr. Virginia Berninger about the brain and learning disabilities
I was required to use severe discrepancy
...a practice that is scientifically invalid
and potentially harmful to children
I was required to use severe discrepancy
...a practice that is scientifically invalid
and potentially harmful to children
prenatal insult
exposure to teratogens, drugs, etc.
brain injury - undiagnosed TBI
disruption of normal development
developmental delays
early learning problems
hereditary risk for LD - family history of learning problems, LD, and/or special education
Fletcher, J.M., Lyons, G.R., Fuchs, L.S., & Barnes, M.A. (2006). Learning Disabilities: From Identification to Intervention.
STEP 1 - Read the Book
Carefully study Appendix B
and
Rapid Reference 2.1-2.3
STEP 2 - Play around and explore
Plot results from
old evaluations
What do you see?
• Does it under-represent any abilities?
Use Appendix B
As you come to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of your favorite tests...
you will find yourself seeking
out and learning new tests!
STEP 3 - Start a learning group!
Talk with your colleagues!
Help each other learn!
Email profiles to each other
for input and support!
STEP 4 - Try a case!
is sufficient
nor failure to respond to
intervention (RTI) alone...
for SLD identification;"
and achievement deficits
consistent with this pattern
of processing deficits,...
that identifies a pattern of psychological processing strengths and deficits, ...
but for intervention
purposes as well..."
What are the 3 main sources of information in an LD evaluation?
...that is an important observation
standard scores below 85
normative cognitive weakness on measures of phonetic processing
such as
CTOPP-2
Elision and
Phoneme
Isolation
such as Rapid
Digit, Letter, Color, and Picture Naming
but within the average range
on Recall of Digits Backwards
(SS=90)
WISC-4 Arithmetic and
Letter-Number Sequencing
But imagine if we had a book...
we could use to quickly identify other tests to help test our hypotheses
But imagine if we had a book...
we could use to quickly identify other tests to help test our hypotheses
Imagine if we had a
common framework
Imagine if we had a common framework
Would it help others understand if we stuck with just one scale of measurement?
Would it help others understand if we stuck with just one scale of measurement?
Would it help others understand if we used a single meaningful scale for ALL results?
Would it help others understand
if we focused on the important question?
Would it help others understand
if we focused on the important question?
Would it help others understand
if we focused on the important question?
Is my child's learning...

...than other children?
Is my child's learning...

...than other children?
Is my child's learning...

...than other children?
Would it help others understand
if we simplified things?



Would it help others understand
if we simplified things?



Would it help others understand
if we simplified things?



Would it help others understand
if we synthesized results along
a simple, yet meaningful framework,
that the parent and teacher understands?
Would it help others understand
if we synthesized results along
a simple, yet meaningful framework,
that the parent and teacher understands?
Like Different
OR
...not dumbed it down...
but used concise and
meaningful communication
LD achievement markers also refers to qualitative patterns suggestive of LD

...observed in how a child performs
during testing and on classroom
work samples
• Does your cognitive test
measure all 7 broad abilities?
(only one subtest measuring the broad area)
• Does it measure, within each broad
area, a variety of narrow abilities?

The child demonstrated visual processing skills more strongly developed than most children her age.
The child demonstrated free recall and associative memory like most children her age,...
and skills for rapidly recalling word information from long term memory much slower than most children her age.
based on research, between cognitive and academic strengths and weaknesses.
Tables estimate 68% confidence intervals for subtests
to find other tests you might use to fill-in those areas.
You might start with the same cognitive test you use now.
Kiddo 1
Kiddo 2
Kiddo 3
Kiddo 4
Kiddo 5
Kiddo 5
Kiddo 6
Kiddo 6
Kiddo 6
Kiddo 5
Kiddo 4
Kiddo 3
Kiddo 2
Kiddo 1
But if we aim to communicate better
what things do we do that
cloud communication?
But if we aim to communicate better
...what things do we do that
cloud communication?
...that make it more difficult
for others to understand results
...that make it more difficult
for others to understand results?
Full transcript