The learning disabilities epidemic may be waning, writes Mike Petrilli on Education Next.
In Rethinking Special Education for a New Century, Fordham and the Progressive Policy Institute argued that “most children with learning disabilities suffered from poor reading instruction, not an underlying neurological problem.” Good prevention programs could prevent children from being designated as learning disabled, they wrote.
This thinking found its way into the No Child Left Behind act via the Reading First program, and into the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act via “Response to Intervention” strategies. In both cases, the focus was on identifying children at risk for reading problems early, and intervening quickly with research-based, rigorous, direct instruction.
The percentage of kids with learning disabilities, which was rising rapidly, has dropped by 11 percent in five years, Petrilli writes. Why aren’t we talking about that? It’s not that often that something works in education.