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assessing specific learning disabilities

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Bianca is an eight year old who was orphaned by a devastating tsunami in Indonesia at the age of five. Bianca was recently adopted by an English speaking family in Indiana and enrolled in third grade at James Madison Elementary. Her native language is Bahasa Indonesia and her adopted family only speaks limited phrases of this language.

Prior to coming to James Madison Elementary, Bianca's education has been sporadic and her English language development is limited. The practice for English Language Learners at James Madison Elementary is total immersion. Bianca is in a traditional third grade classroom and receives support from an ESL teacher (English as second language) for thirty minutes twice a week. Her teacher, Mrs. Perkins, is concerned because Bianca has made limited progress over the past three months and is essentially a non-reader. During a parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Perkins spoke with Bianca's parents concerning her language struggle and academic progress. She is considering referring Bianca for testing to determine if she has a specific learning disability. Bianca's parents fear labeling their young daughter and think she will catch up once she becomes proficient in English. They have asked Mrs. Perkins for additional intervention strategies before agreeing to assess for a specific learning disability.

In your discussion, consider the following questions: Do you feel testing for a specific learning disability is the appropriate next step? Why or why not? If you were Mrs. Perkins, what intervention strategies might you try? What advice might you give Bianca's family? What affective issues might be impacting Bianca?

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A case study is briefly assessed for specific learning disabilities.

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I feel that testing for a specific learning disability is too hasty and inappropriate next step at this time. I see her academic issues as more ESL than ...

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