Child A, we’ll call him Leo, a second grader, is in the 10th percentile of reading, spelling and writing.

Depending on whether you are a “glass half full or half empty” type you can translate it that Leo is better than 10% of the children his age or that 90% are better than he is.

Being a bit of a “glass half empty type” myself, I’m fixated on the notion of the  90% that are better than Leo.

Child B, Joelle, also a second grader, is in the exact same place as Leo.

Both children are struggling significantly.  Their parents are extremely worried and concerned (rightfully so).

Of the two, only one, Joelle,  is getting any kind of legitimate remediation using methods supported in the research.

If they are in the exact same place in their academic functioning, why is only one getting assistance?

While it won’t be said as bluntly as this, the fact from the school’s point of view is Leo just isn’t smart enough.

Joelle has the good fortune of having a FSIQ of 118 (86th %ile), while Leo’s is in the lower portion of the average range (FSIQ = 92 (21st %ile).

As I noted in last week’s post,  Leo is just out of luck (“Sorry, Our Hands Are Tied”).

This “not smart enough” model is linked to states like New Jersey that use a “severe discrepancy model to determine eligibility for classifying a child with a learning disability.

In an article written by Emerson Dickman, special education attorney and former president of the International Dyslexia Association, he quoted leading experts regarding the use of a discrepancy model.

Here are a few choice ones:

For 25 years we have used  the IQ-achievement discrepancy model, a wait-to-fail model that is known to be ineffective, inefficient, irrational, immoral and indefensible.”  (Dr. Douglas Carmine presentation during testimony to Congress on reauthorization of IDEA.)

The formula is a “wait and fail” model and is immoral.”  (Dr. Thomas Hehir, Director of Special Education Programs during Clinton Presidency.)

IQ-Achievement discrepancy is not a valid means for identifying individuals with LD.”  (Dr. Robert Pasternack, Assistant Secretary for Office of Special Education)

 One last point.  Not only is the model unfair and immoral offering no support to struggling children who just aren’t “smart enough,  it also leaves everything entirely up to parents to try and find outside services like tutoring that are never covered by insurance.

Individual tutoring is expensive.  Depending on where you live the range can be between $60 to $100 an hour.  To be effective children ideally should be getting twice weekly sessions.

So, for the single mom I met recently who works full-time with three children, one of whom is severely learning disabled but getting nothing, I ask proponents of this model to guide me on what I should tell her.

Help me out here.

Copyright, 2022

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick: