Further Examination of a Critical Assumption Underlying the Dual-Discrepancy/Consistency Approach to Specific Learning Disability Identification


The aim of this study was to further examine a critical assumption underlying the dual-discrepancy/consistency (DD/C) patterns of strengths and weaknesses method of specific learning disability (SLD) identification. To examine the concordance between strengths and weaknesses in cognitive abilities and academic achievement, we conducted classification agreement analyses on data gathered from three large representative samples of children and adolescents (n = 300 for each group) at different age levels using composite scores from the norming sample of the Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Cognitive Abilities and Achievement. We also followed the decision processes for determining significant weaknesses in the DD/C method and used the accompanying Cross-Battery Assessment Software System to analyze data. Results of classification agreement analyses indicated that, although specificity and negative predictive values were high across all academic achievement domains and cognitive abilities examined, sensitivity and positive predictive values were low. These findings further the empirical literature research questioning the utility of the DD/C methods of SLD identification. Altogether, research on the utility of the DD/C method suggests that use of these methods will result in school psychologists spending too much time conducting assessments with a low probability of accurately identifying SLD.

Publication Title

School Psychology Review