Revisiting discrepancy theory in learning disabilities: What went wrong and why we should go back Academic Article uri icon


  • The rise in popularity of Response to Intervention (RTI) as a method of identifying Learning Disabilities (LD) is partially due to the psychometric and theoretical issues inherent to the use of IQ tests in the once popular discrepancy method of identification. However, both RTI and discrepancy theories have their shortcomings, and criticisms directed at either method are usually applicable to both. This conceptual article puts forward a justification for using tests of the cognitive processes that are implicated in LD as a better method of LD identification. Although the unsuitability of the discrepancy method to accurately identify LD students is well established, it does represent the construct of LD well. Therefore, the discrepancy method can be used as an effective baseline measure against which improved identification procedures based on cognitive processes can be measured. Once these cognitive processes are more clearly defined, tests of these processes offer promise for LD identification.

publication date

  • 2013