I had the pleasure of recently meeting with the faculty of the Center School, in Abington, Pennsylvania. A school specializing in children with learning disabilities, we reviewed a number of evaluations that had been conducted on children prior to their admission to the school.

The staff was looking for practical strategies that can be derived from these evaluations. The psychological/psychoeducational reports ranged from 20 to 30 plus pages in length. Even with all of the data, one of the things missing in all of the reports reviewed was the absence of specifying clear instructional ranges for the children.

Instructional ranges fall into three levels that overlap with each other to some degree. The Independent Level is the “piece of cake” level, where the reading material is easy to manage and understand. The Instructional Level is the point where the child can largely manage the material independently, but may need a bit of support. Perhaps some words are difficult to decode or some of the vocabulary hard to understand. The Frustration Level is exactly what it says – the material is too hard. Material at the frustration level should be avoided.

Having children receive frustration level material is a major contributor to kids shutting down and looking to avoid school and homework.

Takeaway Points

1) If your private psychologist has not specified instructional ranges, go back to him/her and clarify these levels. They are essential pieces of information in program planning for your child.

2) If your child is receiving worksheets or other material that is in his/her frustration level, it is important to raise the issue with the teacher. Hopefully, you will get a willing audience from the teacher who will then make adjustments. (I know, easier said than done, but it’s a start.)