Fletcher paper about identifying LD

The RTI Action Network published a paper by Jack Fletcher about identification of Learning Disabilities in the context of response to instruction (or intervention; RTI). Professor Fletcher, who has been a leading proponent of RTI since the 1990s, makes a strong case for the importance of examining instruction as a part of determining eligibility for LD services.

Jack Fletcher of the University of Houston offers insights into how changes in IDEA 2004 affect the accuracy and utility of diagnostic decision making in the area of LD. Dr. Fletcher argues that RTI models are worth the effort required for implementation, as they advance identification of and intervention for learning disabilities by linking these two domains. His article reviews the historical definitions of LD and articulates the scientific basis for the changes in identification and intervention introduced by IDEA 2004.

The case Professor Fletcher makes seems clear and sensible. As one who has devoted much of his professional career to mitigating the effects of pedagogical problems, I certainly support the value of preventing educational malpractice.

Whether the practices implemented under the guise of “RTI” in schools will have the same clarity and specificity of purpose that is evident in Professor Fletcher’s argument is a matter deserving of scrutiny. I hope some enterprising researchers are proposing systematic, naturalistic observational studies of what local education agencies are actually doing when they say they are “doing RTI.”

Meanwhile, I encourage readers to jump over to Professor Fletcher’s “Identifying Learning Disabilities in the Context of Response to Intervention: A Hybrid Model” the RTI Network.

1 Response to “Fletcher paper about identifying LD”


  • I agree that “RTI models are worth the effort required for implementation, as they advance…intervention for learning disabilities…” Although my district does not use strictly RTI, we do use some of the components (interventions and progress monitoring).

    Just today a teacher in my building, who is going through the pre-referal process for special ed, shared with me how their student has responded positively to the interventions they have implemented.

    How lucky am I as the special education teacher in my building, to have teachers differentiating instruction and finding ways to meet the needs of even their most troubled learners? Super, duper lucky!

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