Similarities and differences between low achievers and students classified learning disabled

James E Ysseldyke, Bob Algozzine, Mark R. Shinn, Matt Mc Gue

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157 Scopus citations


Considerable evidence suggests that the learning-disabilities (LD) category is primarily one of underachievement. The research reported here compared school-identified LD children with a group of low-achieving students (non-LD) not identified as LD. Both groups were administered a battery of psychoeducational tests and their performances were compared on all measures. While discriminant function analysis indicated 78.4% correct classification of the students, further analysis showed it would be impossible to discern classification on an individual basis. An analysis of the results indicated considerable similarities between the groups; in fact, an average of 96% of the scores were within a common range, and the performances of LD and low-achieving children on many subtests were identical. The findings could be interpreted to support either of two major conflicting viewpoints: (a) that schools are failing to identify many students who are in fact LD or (b) that too many non-LD students are labeled LD. This investigation demonstrates that as many as 40% of students may be misclassified. The implications of these results with regard to identification and placement practices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1982

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
1 The research reported herein was supported by Contract No. 300-77-0491 between the U.S. Office of Special Education and the University of Minnesota Institute for Research on Learning Disabilities.

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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