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Kovaleski Responds to Colker’s Criticism of Identifying a Specific Learning Disability

Joseph Kovaleski’s article in the Journal of Law and Education, “Scientifically Supported Identification of SLD Using RTI: A Response to Ruth Colker,” responds to Colker’s review of the historical and contemporary controversies among scientists and school practitioners regarding how students are identified as having a specific learning disability (SLD) and how they can be effectively taught.

Colker criticized both the historically traditional approach as well as the approach introduced with the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act (IDEA), which permits an assessment of the student’s response to intervention. In her review, Colker advocated for a third approach which includes an extensive assessment of the student’s cognitive processes.

Kovleski identified key areas of agreement as well as disagreement. An important area of agreement is that many students with SLD are misidentified. However, RTI has been viewed as both a solution to improving identification accuracy as well as an evidence-based instructional method which produces positive results for most students, including increased achievement.

Vanderheyden, A. M., Kovaleski, J. F., Shapiro, E. S., & Painter, D. T. (2014). Scientifically supported identification of SLD using RTI: A response to Colker. Journal of Law and Education, 43(2), 229-247.

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