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    #246441 - 12/09/19 07:29 AM Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD
    lilith Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/16/06
    Posts: 3
    Hi, I've been a member for more than 10 years but I don't think I have ever posted. I joined b/c of my oldest but I'm currently having issues with my youngest who is in high school and recently had a round of psych ed testing for transition planning, post secondary studies...

    This is the first time we have done the testing through the school. We knew he was so clearly LD that there was no way he could have his LD designation removed and private testing is so expensive.

    He has had 2 rounds of psych ed testing previously. In grade 1 and grade 4. Both were remarkably similar in both aptitude and achievement. He has also had various language assessments done with SLPs which have shown very similar results in the overlap areas assessed.

    CLEF 4 (2010) all percentile scores
    Core Language-96
    Receptive comp- 87
    Expressive Comp- 98
    Language Memory- 92
    Working Mem- 96

    TAPS- all 63rd-99th percentile except memory- numbers reversed- 37th

    WISC IV (2010) percentile scores
    VR- 98
    PR- 55
    WM- 42
    PS- 21

    WISC IV (2013)
    VR-98 (S-98, v95,c95)
    PR- 68 (BD-25,PC-91,MR-63)
    WMI- 50 (ds-50,LNS-50)
    PSI- 21 (C-16, SS-37)

    WJCOG IV (2019)
    GIA- 52
    Gf-Gc- 55
    Shrt trm W Mem- 88
    C Process Sp- 23
    Aud P- 85
    Long trm Ret- 53
    Visual P-53

    WJ ACH ranges from 2nd percentile in Math calc skill, 5th in Broad math, 11th in Math, but 45th in Math problem solving. In reading most scores are in the 80th-95 percentiles except fluency and rate which are 45-50th percentile.

    The school psych says there is no evidence of a learning disability and that he is a very average learner, despite his struggles, because his math reasoning skills are okay, there is no LD. Also, there never was because he believes the previous testing was an overestimation of his abilities because it was done too young and kids "always test to high when tested too young". He also told us that since kids always use calculators, a score at the 2nd percentile "is not that unusual". It felt like he has created his own norms based on his experience. He told us that we should make sure that he focus on lower level courses for the remainder of high school (not university prep courses). He did the Cog testing- another teacher did the achievement testing and told us privately that she only had 1 person who tested as high on some of the subtests and that the other person was our older son. the psych also told us that our son reported depression and anxiety on his self report BASC forms.

    I am not a psych, but I do understand the statistics, and am familiar with most LD diagnostic methods. I am not sure what to do this or how to refute it. Maybe there is logic to his reasoning that I am not seeing, maybe there is new research I'm not familiar with. It looks so straight forward to us. The stakes are high because with an LD diagnoses, he can have access to a lot more support and generous government funding for university or community college.

    I guess my question is, is it as clear cut as it seems to me? I don't know how to, or whether to, start my request for a second opinion. It is very unlikely that another school psych will change the diagnoses because this is a small area and they all know each other. But, maybe, if I can make a clear and logical argument, it would be hard refuse?

    Also, I know that it is common enough, for LD kids (especially those who have difficulties in reading as he did), to have verbal Cog scores fall over time. that isn't so much bothering me, it is just the psych's reasoning that is getting to me. It feels like it negates our sons struggles and the consequences of his unmet needs.

    TIA for any advice or opinions'

    #246445 - 12/09/19 05:50 PM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3640
    I know you've been on here for years (longer than I have!), but welcome, anyway!

    You certainly do have a right to request an independent evaluation, if you are not satisfied with the results of this one, especially where you have data indicating that he has reading achievement that outperforms current assessments of cognitive ability, and which is inconsistent with past testing. To be fair, it is not totally illegitimate for the psych to interpret the decline as due to early instability of scores, but it's also worth noting that this is a very different instrument, with very different weighting of the various cognitive domains. In particular, the C/K score, which is the most akin to the WISC-IV VCI, is derived from a much smaller pool of verbal tasks, with more of a slant toward verbal knowledge than toward verbal reasoning, which is where (as you note) declines in an LD kid might be most notable. However, I should point out that those declines usually are most noticeable in learners with reading disabilities/dyslexia (SLD-reading, in educational parlance), rather than in those with math disabilities/dyscalculia (SLD-mathematics).

    Anyway, the point is, this is not apples to apples. There are analogous measures, sure, but not identical. The places where the results are similar are in the clusters that are most comparable to the PRI and PSI. The WM-related score has gone up a little bit, the VCI-related score (as mentioned) has gone down quite a bit, and then an area that wasn't previously assessed on the WISC (auditory processing) shows up as relatively strong (this area is usually one of the contributors to predicting reading ability).

    Secondly, (and possibly more importantly) even if one uses this set of data, one could make a fairly straightforward argument for SLD-math based on the unexpectedly low (and normatively quite low) math calculation skills. SLD-math calculation is a named disability category in the federal regs. The idea that average math problem solving rules out SLD-math is, shall we say, not widely accepted in the field. (On a side note, though, it is not unreasonable for a high school student who is effectively accessing grade-level curriculum without support beyond a calculator to be moved to a 504 with a calculator accommodation. This actually is an acknowledgement that the student has an LD, as the 504 would be based on the qualifying disability of SLD-math calculation. The distinction between an IEP for SLD-math and a 504 for the same SLD is the presence or absence of a need for specialized instruction.)

    "Sec. 300.8 (c) (10)
    Statute/Regs Main » Regulations » Part B » Subpart A » Section 300.8 » c » 1
    (10) Specific learning disability—

    (i) General. 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, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia."

    This is well low enough to apply for a calculator accommodation for the SATs, too, btw.

    Another model for SLD diagnosis involves unusual intra-individual differences. Given that the entire assessment (cognitive and achievement) appears to have employed the WJIV, they should be able to generate data on the significance and rarity of his magnitude of diversity of cognitive and academic skills. What model of SLD pertains to your situation depends on your local and state regs,

    Outside of formal testing numbers, how is his actual school experience?

    #246447 - 12/10/19 12:50 PM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    puffin Offline

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    Just adding that while IQ scores are known to be more unstable when young 4th grade is not that young and it isn't true that all kids score too high when tested young. And if someone in the 50th percentile scores is the 2nd percentile on a recently normed test you can't just shrug and mutter about calculators.

    #246449 - 12/11/19 02:54 AM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    lilith Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/16/06
    Posts: 3
    Thank you both for your responses. It felt like the psych set out determined to prove to us that he wasn't smart or LD. The smart part doesn't really matter, I was just surprised at his dismissal of all previous testing that consistently showed otherwise. The LD part does matter. Until about grade 9 he did struggle tremendously with reading. Reading testing results until then were always low. Somehow, over the past few years, his reading has improved while his math results have been on a steady decline. He has only actually failed math in grade 9, despite lots of support, and moved to lower level math for the remainder of high school.

    We are in Canada so we don't have any federal rules related to education and I have been unable to find provincial guidelines, despite a call to the department of education to ask.

    The psych will not tell me any more information about the numbers generated by the software because it can be "easily misinterpreted" and, in his experience, the results are not unusual. I guess, mainly, I wanted to make sure that I have legitimate reasons to doubt his interpretations of the results. I don't want to make waves if if the evidence isn't really as clear as it appears to my biased eyes! There is no point for me to move ahead with questioning the results if it isn't really clear cut.

    His school supports will remain in place, he has many accommodations that the school agrees he still needs. He has alternate venues available for all tests, because of illegible, slow handwriting, he can use his iPad for written work, calculator access for math. He has had all of that since at least grade 5 and everyone is saying he should still have those, even the psych. I wish he could get reduced work in some circumstances, because he is so slow, but the teachers really don't agree with that one!

    Again, thank you both for your generous and thoughtful responses.

    #246451 - 12/11/19 09:10 AM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3640
    So this is from the Ontario sped regs. If you're not in ON, of course, this won't help much, except perhaps to give you some more likely search terms:

    "Learning Disability: One of a number of neurodevelopmental disorders that persistently and significantly has an impact on the ability to learn and use academic and other skills and that:
    affects the ability to perceive or process verbal or non-verbal information in an effective and accurate manner in students who have assessed intellectual abilities that are at least in the average range;
    results in (a) academic underachievement that is inconsistent with the intellectual abilities of the student (which are at least in the average range), and/or (b) academic achievement that can be maintained by the student only with extremely high levels of effort and/or with additional support;
    results in difficulties in the development and use of skills in one or more of the following areas: reading, writing, mathematics, and work habits and learning skills;
    may typically be associated with difficulties in one or more cognitive processes, such as phonological processing; memory and attention; processing speed; perceptual-motor processing; visual-spatial processing; executive functions (e.g., self-regulation of behaviour and emotions, planning, organizing of thoughts and activities, prioritizing, decision making);
    may be associated with difficulties in social interaction (e.g., difficulty in understanding social norms or the point of view of others); with various other conditions or disorders, diagnosed or undiagnosed; or with other exceptionalities;
    is not the result of a lack of acuity in hearing and/or vision that has not been corrected; intellectual disabilities; socio-economic factors; cultural differences; lack of proficiency in the language of instruction; lack of motivation or effort; gaps in school attendance or inadequate opportunity to benefit from instruction."

    Supposedly, all of the provinces have some form of sped regs, with varying degrees of support.

    #246454 - 12/12/19 03:43 AM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    lilith Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/16/06
    Posts: 3
    Thanks. I can't imagine there is much variation among provinces and it may be that our province is in the process of updating the regulations. I will to move forward and see if I can appeal the removal of his diagnosis. I think I will also see if there is a way for me to access the actual scores/subtest scores.

    Again, I truly appreciate your kind help.

    #246478 - 12/14/19 11:25 AM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3640
    I hope you are able to find some more useful responses from your local educational authorities.

    An interpretive note: in my experience, it is not uncommon for learners with strengths in language and relative weaknesses in visual-spatial/perceptual areas (sometimes classified as NVLD) to struggle with reading early on, when it is more of a mechanical, and even visual-spatial skill, but then suddenly take off with reading once they (finally) make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn, and it becomes primarily a meaningful language task. That would, btw, make the decline in verbal cognition scores more easily understood, since he had limited access to high-level text all the way through middle school.

    On the flip side, many of these students also seem to get by in mathematics as long as it is arithmetic-based--the "vocabulary" or basic language of math--and everyday-contextualized. Once they hit higher level math (usually in middle school or high school--sometimes not until university for some very high cognitive learners), the underlying visual-spatial weakness appears to interfere with more abstract math. Note, by the way, that his one high score on the 2013 WISC-IV PRI was in Picture Concepts--which uses concrete-familiar images, thus making it more amenable to verbal mediation/compensatory strategies. IOW, why that score is in the same range as his VCI subtests.

    A related phenomenon I have encountered a few times is that sometimes schools declassify these types of students as LD around the transition into or out of middle school, because they no longer test as LD-reading, and no one thinks to take a closer look at other areas of possible LD, such as writing or mathematics (or they look, but the decision-makers are already kind of mentally locked into reading as the focus). They probably hadn't been writing IEP goals for anything other than reading up until then, and now the student has met or even exceeded the goals, with the next level of goals becoming essentially "make average progress in grade-level curriculum", which doesn't, obviously, need special education (no specialized instruction involved). If they don't take a wider perspective that includes other significant educational goals, they may not see that the LD is still very much there--just presenting in a different way. Every year, (in addition to the students I recommend declassifying because they can handle the curriculum independently) I end up reclassifying a handful of students that were removed from an IEP just one or two years earlier, by their previous school, for exactly this reason.

    #246494 - 12/19/19 12:37 PM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    puffin Offline

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    The phych probably only sees unusual test scores so his view on normal may be off.

    #246495 - 12/19/19 02:11 PM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: puffin]
    aeh Offline

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3640
    That may or may not be so for the person in this case, but I would say that my view of "normal" actually became much more accurate after I entered this field. "Normal" is supposed to be defined statistically in this context.

    #246497 - 12/21/19 12:39 PM Re: Plea for advice- HS testing no longer LD [Re: lilith]
    puffin Offline

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    I agree. But to say a 2nd percentile score in a kid who is even average cognitively suggests a biased veiw or confusion about statistics.
    But yeah I thought my kids were average and the kids they hung out with were a bit dim. This wasn't helped by having a Sunday school where half the kids were above the 95th percentile.

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