Tag Archive for 'other sources'

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Many dreams spoken

Yesterday was the anniversary of I Speak of Dreams, the blog that Liz Ditz maintains. Liz has used it to many sensible and helpful posts for parents, teachers, and others. She’s dug through mountains of information (including mis- and dysinformation) to make sense of issues and then reported about them clearly and thoroughly.

Liz, sorry I’m a day late, but Happy Blogiversary!

Vouchers and identification rates

Over on the Web site of the Manhattan Institute under the headline, “How Special Ed Vouchers Keep Kids From Being Mislabeled as Disabled,” Marcus Winters and Jay Greene published an article reporting their analysis of Florida’s McKay vouchers program. They report that, schools that have nearby voucher-accepting private schools, the incidence of children identified as having Specific Learning Disability (SLD) is inversely correlated with the number of neighboring private schools.

The question examined in this report is whether special-education voucher programs change the likelihood that students will be diagnosed with an SLD. Voucher programs allow disabled students to attend a private school, which receives payments in the form of full or partial tuition that would have otherwise been directed to the transferring student’s public school. Special-education voucher programs appear to reduce a local public school’s financial incentive to diagnose a marginal student who is merely struggling academically as suffering from an SLD by offering him the chance to leave the public school, enter a private school, and take all of his funding with him.

I hope to get a chance to provide a more detailed analysis of the report. Other tasks require immediate action on my part, though. I’d welcome comments from others who have the time to examine the report.

Link to the article by Mr. Winters and Mr. Greene.

JLD on professional development


JLD cover

The Journal of Learning Disabilities for September-October 2009 features a special series of articles about the teaching of reading teaching. Issue editors R. Malatesha Joshi and Anne E. Cunningham put together a set of articles by stellar authorities in the area of reading to examine “Perceptions and Reality: What We Know About the Quality of Literacy Instruction.”

Moats, L. (2009). Still wanted: Teachers with knowledge of language. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 387-391.

Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Hougen, M., Dahlgren M. E., Ocker-Dean, E., & Smith, D. L. (2009). Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 392-402.[Link]

Podhajski, B., Mather, N., Nathan, J., & Sammons, J. (2009). Professional development in scientifically based reading instruction: Teacher knowledge and reading outcomes Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 403-417. [Link]

Cunningham, A. E., Zibulsky, J., Stanovich, K. E., & Stanovich, P. J. (2009). How teachers would spend their time teaching language arts: The mismatch between self-reported and best practices. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 418-430. [Link]

Spear-Swerling, L. (2009). A literacy tutoring experience for prospective special educators and struggling second graders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 431-443. [Link]

Kaiser, L., Rosenfield, S., & Gravois, T. (2009). Teachers’ perception of satisfaction, skill development, and skill application after instructional consultation services. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 444-457.[Link]

Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Graham, L., Ocker-Dean, E., Smith, D. L., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2009). Do textbooks used in university reading education courses conform to the instructional recommendations of the National Reading Panel? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 458-463. [Link]

Stotsky, S. (2009). Licensure tests for special education teachers: How well they assess knowledge of reading instruction and mathematics. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 464-474. [Link]

Lyon, G. R., & Weiser, B. (2009). Teacher knowledge, instructional expertise, and the development of reading proficiency. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 475-480.[Link]

AAP and AAO on vision therapy


Interview with: Walter M. Fierson, MD,
Chair of Learning Disabilities Subcommittee
of Ophthalmology Section, American Academy
of Pediatrics

In “Groups Assail Vision Therapy as Remedy for Learning Disabilities,” Crystal Phend of MedPage Today reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Ophthalmology jointly issued a statement calling the use of well-known vision therapies unfounded and ineffective.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 27 — Behavioral vision therapy, eye exercises, and colored lenses have no role in treatment of dyslexia and other learning disabilities, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The academy came down hard on these “scientifically unsupported” alternative treatments in a joint statement with the American Academy of Ophthalmology and other vision organizations.

The AAP, which has published many valuable statements about Learning Disabilities in the past, made unequivocal statements about the problems with these therapies. In the accompanying audio clip, Dr. Walter Frierson provides good explanation of the rationale for the recommendations.

Learning disabilities, including reading disabilities, are commonly diagnosed in children. Their etiologies are multifactorial, reflecting genetic influences and dysfunction of brain systems. Learning disabilities are complex problems that require complex solutions. Early recognition and referral to qualified educational professionals for evidence-based evaluations and treatments seem necessary to achieve the best possible outcome. Most experts believe that dyslexia is a language-based disorder. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions. Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.

Pediatrics 2009;124:837–844

Faithful readers of LD Blog will remember that there have been perhaps a half-dozen posts here on the mistaken (at best) therapies promoted to families of individuals with Learning Disabilities. It is valuable to have prestigious organizations such as the AAP and AAO issue statements that support the observations presented here.

Teachers, psychologists, and school administrators: Please advise the parents of your students with reading problems not to waste time and money on colored lenses, eye tracking and eye teaming, and other similar therapies.

Read Ms. Phend’s report. Download the full statement by the AAP. Visit the AAP Web site, especially its section on Learning Disabilities.

Think Aloud redux

Over on Twitter, friend of LD Blog Liz Ditz retweeted this:

RT @Includekidswdis: Stop, Think, Do a program by Lindy Petersen http://is.gd/1FQ0h which can really help children with #ADHD

I took a quick look and immediately remembered the work of Bonnie Camp and her colleagues (especially Mary Ann Bash) during the previous millennium. Dr. Camp and her group developed, researched, and refined methods for teaching children with learning and behavior problems, including attention deficit disorders, to manage their behavior. The Think Aloud program was at the forefront of the cog-mod mania that swept through child clinical psychology and special education in the 70s and 80s.

THINK ALOUD is a psychoeducational training progtam designed to enhance social and cognitive problem solving skills for increasing prosocial behavior and decreasing impulsivity. Much of the program content was chosen to correct cognitive deficits displayed by young aggressive boys. (1,2) Research on verbal mediation indicated that before internal controls could be established, many children needed first to establish effective control by verbalizing aloud then fading to a silent level. The Think Aloud Program was designed to teach children a problem solving process (including problem identificaton, generation of alternative solutions, predicting consequences and evaluating outcomes), how to verbalize aloud, how to apply this process in both cognitive and social situations, then move to silent direction and control of behavior. The original research with the program was conducted in two controlled trials and one refresher program with pairs of 6-8 year old boys rated as hyperaggressive by their teachers. (3,4,7,8,9,12) The manual for this program, along with details of research findings, is presented in Think Aloud: Small Group Program (11).

The numerals in the quote are footnotes (not surprisingly). They refer to only a few of the dozens of sources Dr. Camp provides.

Although it is a bit rough as a Web site, Dr. Camp has created an Internet site for Think Aloud. It features citations for those sources as well as some of the original materials. In addition, she has made some new materials for the program available as downloads.

Link to the Think Aloud site.

Dyslexia in Science

Professor John Gabrieli of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a paper in the current issue of Science discussing dyslexia. Here’s the abstract.

Gabrieli, J. D. E. (2009). Dyslexia: A new synergy between education and cognitive neuroscience. Science, 325, 280 – 283

Reading is essential in modern societies, but many children have dyslexia, a difficulty in learning to read. Dyslexia often arises from impaired phonological awareness, the auditory analysis of spoken language that relates the sounds of language to print. Behavioral remediation, especially at a young age, is effective for many, but not all, children. Neuroimaging in children with dyslexia has revealed reduced engagement of the left temporo-parietal cortex for phonological processing of print, altered white-matter connectivity, and functional plasticity associated with effective intervention. Behavioral and brain measures identify infants and young children at risk for dyslexia, and preventive intervention is often effective. A combination of evidence-based teaching practices and cognitive neuroscience measures could prevent dyslexia from occurring in the majority of children who would otherwise develop dyslexia.

Link to the article

Free Current Practice Alerts

It’s sometimes hard to sort through the rhetoric about different methods used in teaching students with Learning Disabilities. However, two groups within the Council for Exceptional Children have made the task considerably easier. In a series of publications now numbering 16, the Division for Learning Disabilities and the Division for Research cut through the bologna to provide quick reviews about the effectiveness of current educational practices. These Current Practice Alerts, which are readily accessible for general readers, cover familiar topics including these:

  • Class-wide Peer Tutoring
  • Co-Teaching
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Direct Instruction
  • Fluency Instruction
  • Formative Evaluation
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • Graphic Organizers
  • High-Stakes Assessment
  • Mnemonic Instruction
  • Phonics Instruction
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Reading Comprehension Instruction
  • Reading Recovery
  • Social Skills Instruction

They are succinct and faithful to the research evidence. They even make explicit recommendations about whether to use the practice. What’s the hitch? Well, they’re free, so see for yourselves.

Link to the Web page listing these resources.

Teacher screeches

Kathy, who provides private remedial reading services in British Columbia (CA), has a blog she calls “Teacherscreech: Rants and musings about dyslexia, learning disabilities and other challenges.” that’s worth a peruse. Check these entries: Too little, too late and Why don’t teachers get the training in university?. Also, read through Kathy’s earliest posts about her realization that she needed to change her teaching (start here).