Cognitive Discrepancy Model - Paper Example

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Wesleyan University
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Research paper
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Cognitive Discrepancy Model is an evaluation model used by many learning institutions to determine if kids are eligible for special education. In this case, the discrepancy refers to a mismatch between a childs intellectual ability and his progress in school. Substantial discrepancies exist between various sets of scores as observed while taking comparing the assessments of the childs intellectual ability (Kavale, 2014).


There is various strength associated with the cognitive Discrepancy Model. First, it is an already established practice as many learning institutions have been using it for many years. Secondly, the model requires little or no time for the classroom teachers. Testing is therefore conducted by a separate team of professionals. Finally, Cognitive Discrepancy Model demands to get the subject scores on a variety of measures of cognitive processing. Undeniably, these scores could help provide helpful information regarding the underlying issues that might enhance the struggle of the child (Kavale, 2014).


The Cognitive Discrepancy Model is usually considered the default. However, it should always be considered along with other data to provide a comprehensive assessment of the child. Most important thing to note is that the model can identify kids too late. The students with learning issues often struggle on the early grades and may not be identified with the specific learning issues (Kavale, 2014).


When IDEA reissued in 2004, the regulations offered permission to the alternatives of the model. It was a change that was intended to helping learning issues at the right time and respond to them with their appropriate interventions. One of the approaches proposed is the Response to Intervention (RTI). This model focuses on the students reading, writing and math skills early in the year. As a model, it posits self-concepts to be a function of the differences between self-perception and actual attainments of the ideal standards

Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) Model

The Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) model fundamentally uses a cognitive evaluation which breaks out the performance of the student in key areas. It is done in focus with what the student already knows, his processing and reasoning abilities, memory, auditory processing and the phonetic awareness.


The strength of the Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses model is that it offers those designing interventions for students the ability to identify specific cognitive areas of weaknesses. Students identified with the short term memory issues is often a frequent situation that is dealt with in this model. In this way, not only does the Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses helps both teachers to create specific strategies to deal with a wide array of learning issues but also parents to understand why their children cannot remember important chore instructions. Furthermore, this model gives parents the ability to understand their children more deeply especially in non-academic ways (Pullen, 2016).


Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) has its weaknesses. The model may not be able to identify specific learning issues especially during the earlier days of children in, the lower grades. As such, teachers and parents may find it difficult to integrate it as a major evaluation method for specific learning issues (Hale et al. 2015)


A major implication of Patterns of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) is that it plays crucial roles in helping to identify specific learning issues. The proponents of PSW approach argue that PSW is a key component that should be used in specific learning Disabilities based fact that the general structure of human cognitive abilities is comprised of a general factor as well as multiple non-global factors (Pullen, 2016). When used, therefore, specific learning issues are likely to be identified.

Response to Intervention (RTI) Service Delivery

Response to Intervention (RTI) Service Delivery is a multi-tier approach to the early identification and support students with specific learning issues. Fundamentally, RTI begins with valuable instructions and the universal screening of all children in the general education classroom. In this model, learners with the identified special learning issues are provided with the intervention at increasing levels of intensity to accelerate their rate of learning. Various personnel can, therefore, be involved in the provision of these services, and include education teachers or instructors. It is important to note that the educational decisions regarding the intensity and the interventions duration are based on the individuals response ability to instruction.


RTI is used for decision making by both the general and special education teachers. In this way, it creates a well-integrated system and intervention that is guided by child outcome data. As part of the RTI evaluation, the universal screening and progress monitoring offer the information regarding which the learners learning rate and level of the students achievement both individually and in comparison with other groups. Finally, the students achievement is often assessed throughout the process of RTI to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum.


There are some challenges that RTI often reveals in the secondary environment. First, it may be difficult to locate the age-appropriate universal screening and progress-monitoring tools, especially at the eighth-grade level. Other than this challenge, it is important to recognize that the implementation of RTI model can cause difficulties with things such as the overall program structure, the manner of students movement and sequence of activities within the tiers.


It is undeniable that RTI plays a crucial role in promoting the identification of specific learning disability. The school administration must support the concept of RTI without anxiety as well as being the advocates for the implementation of the scientific and research-based instructions. Additionally, the established universal screening agenda and the recurrent progress monitoring must be in place for the successful implementation of the intervention. If all these can be applied, then RTI can emerge the best evaluation tool for specific learning issues.

Hybrid Model

A hybrid model is another crucial approach to the identification of the learning disabilities. The model consists of three criteria. It requires the learners to demonstrate low achievement, evidence of insufficient response to the effective interventions and poor management which are not caused by factors such as mental retardation, sensory deficits, and serious emotional disturbance.


This model substantially presents a step in the right direction through the incorporation of both the low achievement and poor response to effective, research-based interventions.


The major weaknesses of this model are that it has not be evaluated empirically. Secondly, it has not fully offered a representation of the currently existing knowledge on reading disability.


The use of hybrid approach has enhanced easy identification of learning disabilities regarding poor performance and academic achievement as well as the inability to respond to the research-based interventions. If the weaknesses highlighted in this cases are addressed, then hybrid approach will emerge the most crucial tool for assessing learners with all forms of learning disabilities.

Part #2

Overall trends in SLD Identification

The overall trends in SLD identification from 1995-2012 have been explicitly explained in the article by Zirkel. The figures for each year indicate the number of students with the Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) between the age of 6 and 21. In the same way, they indicate the percentage in relation to the students classified under all the IDEA of classification for schools and the percentage in relation to total K12 school admissions. Overall, there is an increase of the enrolments of the students with SLD at an earlier age of 6. According to Zirkel, huge struggle as experienced by children at the lower grades constitute to this trend. The enrolment however decreases with increase in the age such that low enrolment is seen at the age of 21. The proper intervention are used to identify and mediate some of the effects of those learning disabilities.

Summary of the RTI influence on SLD identification

In the study, Zirkel recognises the role of RTI on SLD identification. Notably, the model allows the universal screening and progress monitoring, which provide the information regarding which the learners learning rate and level of the students achievement both individually as well as when compared with other groups. Through the assessment of students achievement by the process of RTI, it was easy to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum.

Influences of additional factors that affects SLD identification

According to Zirkel, other factors have greatly influenced the SLD identification through the provision of helpful information regarding the underlying issues that might enhance the struggle of the child. These include the economic disadvantage, cultural differences, and the environmental factors (Zirkel, 2013).

The Implications of Findings

The findings of this research offers an opportunity for the effective identification of the SLD among children at all level of learning. The approaches used in specific learning Disabilities are significant based fact that the human abilities is comprised of a general factor as well as multiple non-global factors, which influence students enrolment.


Hale, M.R., Palomares, R.S., Styck, K.M., & McGill, R.J. (2015). Critical issues in specific

Learning disability: what we need to know about the PSW model. Learning Disability

Quarterly, 39 (3) 159-170. doi: 101177/0731948715618504

Kavale, K.A. (2014). Discrepancy models in the identification of learning disability. New

York: Cambridge University Press

Pullen, P.C. (2016). Historical and current perspectives on learning disabilities in the United

States. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 14, 25-37. University of Virgina.

Zirkel, P.A. (2013). The trend in SLD enrollments and the role of RTI. Journal of Learning

Disabilities, 46 (5) 473-479. doi: 10.117/0022219413495297

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