tests have enjoyed a long and valuable history in the
assessment special needs.
tests of intellectual functioning, adaptive behavior,
social-emotional functioning, and academic achievement have been used for many years in
identifying children with a number of disabilities, including mental retardation, learning
disabilities, brain injury, and emotional difficulties. In these cases, scores obtained by children
with a suspected disability are compared to scores of other children in a national norm referenced
group, with standard scores indicating specifically how well or how poorly the child did in
comparison to expected typical performance. For instance, diagnostic criteria published by the
American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2000) indicates that Learning Disorders can be
diagnosed when "an individual's achievement on individually administered,
reading, mathematics, or written expression is substantially below that expected for age,
schooling, and level of intelligence" (p. 49). Historically, methods of identifying children with
Learning Disabilities have included (
) low achievement across content areas, (
individual differences, and (
) discrepancies between tested intelligence and achievement. An
individually administered test of intellectual functioning is often recommended for assessment of
mental retardation and learning disability, yet is less frequently needed for the assessment of a
speech or language disorder (Thorndike, 2005).
Response-to-Intervention (RTI) is frequently mentioned as an alternative to discrepancy analysis.
Although the debate between proponents of discrepancy-analysis and RTI focus most
exclusively on the identification of children with Learning Disability, the issues put forth in these
debates have implications for the identification of other disabilities listed in IDEIA 2004.