PSW PowerPoint - Ventura County SELPA

Ventura County SELPA
Pattern of Strengths and
Weaknesses (PSW) Model:
An Overview
• SLD Eligibility
• Why change from discrepancy to PSW?
• Overview of PSW Model
• Specific Learning Disability (SLD) defined
• Pre-referral Interventions and the PSW
• What is your role?
Eligibility for Special Education
How does a student become eligible for Special Education
under the category of Specific Learning Disability (SLD)?
• Assessment teams complete a comprehensive assessment to
determine whether student meets eligibility requirements set
forth by federal/state regulations
• Up until IDEA 2004, the discrepancy model was the sole model
to be used for SLD identification
What is the discrepancy model?
• Requires a comprehensive assessment determining:
• Significant difference between ability (generally Full Scale IQ
score) and academic achievement (standardized testing)
• At least one processing weakness
Why a change to the PSW
• Federal law (IDEA 2004) allows for alternative research-based
• CA state regulations specifically allow for the use of the
Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses Model
• SLD is the largest eligibility category
• Many concerns with discrepancy model
Concerns with the Discrepancy Model
• Research has long pointed to problems with
this model including:
• Difficult to identify SLD early, which could
delay intervention during critical time
• Over-identification of students
• Inconsistent application of approach
• Not research-based
• Use with African-American students
• No link required between academic and
processing weakness.
PSW Premise
• Based on several core research-based principles:
• Specific Learning Disabilities are characterized by
neurologically-based deficits in cognitive processing
• Research has demonstrated the existence of specific
cognitive processes (e.g. visual processing, working
memory, etc.).
• Researchers are also in agreement that sound tools
and measures exist to assess these processing areas
• Research has also found links between various
processing areas and specific areas of academic
achievement .
What is the Ventura County
• Requires a comprehensive assessment to determine why
a student is struggling academically.
• As student with SLD must have:
Evidence of some processing (thinking) strengths
within the average range (some average thinking skills)
Evidence of at least one significant processing
Evidence of at least one significant academic
• Additionally, the Academic weakness(es) must be linked
to (or explained by) the processing weakness(es).
Benefits of PSW Model
• Can allow for earlier identification of students
with SLD
• Requires an assessment that provides answer to
why the student is not responding
• Assessment linked to targeted interventions
• Can better assist assessment teams at ruling out
other disabilities (emotional disturbance, other
health impairment) and/or factors (language,
instructional, environmental) that may be
interfering with learning
Academic Assessment and the
PSW Model
• While standardized achievement tests are still required to be
given as part of a comprehensive PSW assessment, more
weight is now placed on other academic measures which may
include data sources such as:
Grade level assessments
Work samples
Progress monitoring data
Progress toward IEP goals (for triennials/reevaluations)
SLD Defined
• An SLD exists in students with an Otherwise Normal Cognitive
Ability Profile (ONCAP) who possess unexpected
underachievement in one or more of the eight achievement
areas outlined in California Ed. Code which is explained by one
or more of the domain-specific processing weakness outlined
in California Ed. Code (CCR Title 5 Section 3030 (j))
Example of SLD within the
PSW Model
Visual processing and oral language skills are in
the average range (processing strengths)
Phonological processing skills in the below
average range (processing weakness)
Basic reading skills (decoding) and reading
fluency in the below average range (academic
Research indicates that weaknesses in auditory
processing are linked to poor reading skills
What a Specific Learning Disability
(SLD) is VS. What SLD is not
Characterized by areas of
strength at or above the
average range along with
specific areas of weakness.
Characterized by generally low
or below average cognitive
abilities with little or no areas
of strength.
Characterized by processing
weakness(es) that are linked
by research to specific
academic weakness(es).
Characterized by processing
weakness(es) that are not
linked with academic
What a Specific Learning Disability
(SLD) is VS. What SLD is not (cont.)
Explained by a neurologically-based
processing deficit or deficits.
Explained primarily by low or below
average cognitive abilities or another
disability category
Characterized as a “within learner”
Explained by external factors such as
instructional or environmental
May co-exist with other disability
conditions (sensory, language,
Primarily explained by another
disability and/or condition.
Accurate Identification and
Assessment: SLD vs. GLD
• A Specific learning disability (SLD) is characterized by specific
strengths and weaknesses (peaks and valleys) while a student
with all or most areas in the low average or below average
range (flat profile) would not have a specific learning disability,
but rather a general learning difficulty (GLD)
• The latter student would not be eligible under the SLD special
education eligibility category.
The Importance of Pre-Referral
Interventions and the PSW Model
• PSW model works best with RtI² as pre-referral intervention
• Research has found that fewer students require special
education as their academic needs are being identified and
targeted in general education
Standards-based Instruction &
Differentiated Instruction
• Delivered by qualified personnel
• State adopted standards
• ELD for EL students
• Implemented with fidelity
• Differentiated strategies
• Accommodations
Targeted Interventions
• Intervention targeted to the student’s specific needs
• Decoding vs comprehension
• Research-based interventions
• Fidelity
• Time
• Frequency
• Group Size
Data Collection
• Pre- and post-data
Diagnostic/Entry Level
Progress Monitoring
• Regular intervals
• Examination of data in comparison to
• Whole Grade Level
• Students within intervention group
• Individual student growth
What is your role?
• Advocate for your students
• Bring data about your student
• Strengths
• Areas of concern
• What has been tried
• Stay involved in the process
• Ask questions

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