You have a tenth grade boy in your classroom who seems to be doing fine. He has been making A’s and B’s. He has friends. He always does his homework, participates in class discussions, is a member of FFA, is on the trap shooting team, and is otherwise successful and popular. He has integrity, determination and is a model citizen and student. If you use the IQ-Achievement Discrepancy Model to identify students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) then this boy wouldn’t even be on your radar. He obviously doesn’t have a learning disability that is holding him back because he isn’t behind. If anything…he may be gifted. Because the IQ-Achievement Discrepancy model of identification calls for students to be tested and identified as having SLD when their IQ scores are significantly higher than their achievement levels, this boy would never be recognized as having a learning disability because his achievement is not low.
What school achievement doesn’t show about your tenth grade student is that homework assignments that should be taking him about 30-45 minutes take him literally 2-3 hours. His school achievement doesn’t show that he is taking his evening meals at his desk instead of at the table with his mother and father because he works on homework 4-7 hours a night and is so determined to succeed and to do the right thing that he will not miss an assignment. He never complains because his family simply doesn’t do that. If you and your colleagues don’t implement a school wide Response To Intervention (RTI) program, this student may struggle for the rest of his life and never know why.
Response to Intervention (RTI) is a school-wide measure that can be taken once or multiple times per year. RTI is designed to define the educational circumstances necessary to afford the student the best opportunity to respond to the curriculum.
(Johnson, Mellard, Fuchs, & McKnight, 2006) In other words, RTI will make sure the student is receiving instruction that is adequate and appropriate to meet his educational needs so he can gain as much as possible from the classes he is taking. (Johnson, Mellard, Fuchs, & McKnight, 2006)
With the school-wide approach of RTI, this student can be tested in a systematic way that may reveal his very severe Dyslexia, and with the tiered model of instruction he can be placed on a level of instruction that allows him to gain adequate education from the school’s curriculum, or he could even be identified as needing a 504 plan. No matter which set of interventions eventually turns out to be what he needs, the systematic testing and tiered instructional levels of a Response to Intervention program of school wide assessment will definitely save your tenth grade student years of frustration and possibly even prevent suffering grades if his inhuman resolve ever began to waiver.
Johnson, E., Mellard, D., Fuchs, D., & McKnight, M. (2006). Responsiveness to Intervention: How To Do It. National Research Center on Learning Disabilities .