Monthly Archives: May 2014

ASHA’s CAA Silo and School Speech-Language Pathology

We find no evidence school speech-language pathology is a CAA priority. Current statistics say school SLPs make up over half the paying membership but are under-represented on the Council. Of 18 members, only one is a “Practitioner-SLP.”

Window looking out.

Window looking out.

Since 1930 school employees have paid the freight for ASHA accreditation advances but have been all but locked out of curriculum discussions. It is a bias started by Wendell Johnson and his group.

The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology isolated itself from the membership by claiming “autonomy” for itself with no published rationale for why its act of aggrandisement was necessary to advance school practice curriculum. When it comes to school curriculum the grade for CAA is D.


Why Teacher Training Doesn’t Reduce Special Education Over-identification

Proposed is our theory of special education over-identification. It is based on the research idea that there is an underlying (abstract) factor common to several areas of school mis-evaluation. There is a population of school children dispreferred for general education instruction. This abstract factor (D-FACTOR) is not perceived by educators and policy-makers, and therefore training concepts and parameters are misguided.

Education is categorical and this is the way training is done, categorically. This thinking reflects factory concepts of the early 20th century and the categorical curriculum. Hence, the U. S. Department of Education together with the U. S. Justice Department propose teacher training as one means of fighting inappropriate school suspension. Training should start with how we categorize and evaluate struggling children in American schools.

Compulsory Education in America

The essence of problem solving is the recognition of the nature of the great American experiment to embrace compulsory education in a society which at the same time embraces elite education. We have documented this point extensively. Therefore, we have had a class of Americans fighting to sustain elite education within a system of public education. The system is designed to “discriminate” against those children who do not fit. Even the charter school movement can be studied in this light.

It took a strong movement of parents of disabled children to get IDEA legislation passed in 1975 and force states to put disabled children in schools.

Simply, teachers need to understand their histories as workers in the government schools, and how the civil rights movement has run up against those who do not want struggling children. Teachers must understand, as gate keepers, they are caught between two movements and knowledge of same is their best defense. Some need to own their own preference for elite education only serves to make their jobs more difficult.


Right now, we see the D-Factor includes:

GENDER: males are more likely to be placed.

TEACHABILITY: difficult-to-teach pupils are more likely to be placed.

DISABILITY: disabled pupils are more likely to be placed.

RACE: minority pupils are more likely to be placed.

Difficult-to-Teach and Special Education Over-identification

We are reposting this important information on the role of teachers in the over-identification of children for special education. A theory of over-identification must examine the role of teachers. The Jim Wright summary is critically important.

Teacher Referrals

How regular classroom teachers understand at risk children and then decide what special help they need is a critical factor as to the number of children who end up in special education. For example, there are more boys than girls in special education. We learn: “e.g., evidence that female teachers are more likely than male teachers to refer boys for special education coupled with the predominance of female teachers in the teaching force, especially in the elementary grades” (Policy Archive).

Although some special education referrals come from child find activities and parents, most come from the teaching faculty. Indications are teachers refer too many children to special education.

One hypothesis is that teachers view special education as a remedial support service rather than a disability-only service. Modern classrooms are full of “difficult-to-teach” (DTT) children, whatever the problems the children have. They do not easily follow the standard lessons teachers are prepared to conduct. When 20% or more of the children in a teacher’s classroom are difficult-to-teach, it is hard to achieve instructional goals.

A clown on main street.

A clown on mainstreet.

“Children who are ‘difficult to teach’ (DTT) are those who experience considerably greater difficulty learning new educational material and mastering academic concepts than do their typical peers of the same age. Difficult-to-teach students may also display significant behavior problems (e.g., chronic inattention, a tendency to act impulsively, verbal defiance, or physical aggression). This group can be thought of as falling along a continuum, ranging from less severe to more-severe learning problems. In some cases, DTT children are classified as having a special education disability and receive special services. Many of these students, however, have no identified disability and are enrolled in general-education classrooms without additional support”.


In our most recent posts it is clear over-identification of special needs children is correlated with the over-identification of detention and suspension cases. The U. S. Departments of Education and Justice have issued a paper on the topic. Hence teachability is a factor in discrimination against struggling students. See the post, “Suspensions Hit Minorities, Special-ed Students Hardest”

Theory of Special Education Over-identification

We have sketched a broad array of issues and factors determining inappropriate special education placement. Full description prior to theory construction is necessary but it is possible to identify preliminary issues.


Right now, we see FOUR chief factors which taken together predict the likelihood of inappropriate placement.

GENDER: males are more likely to be placed.

TEACHABILITY: difficult-to-teach pupils are more likely to be placed.

DISABILITY: disabled pupils are more likely to be placed.

RACE: minority pupils are more likely to be placed.

Mr. Chang, swan-goose and friend, Lakeside, Arizona

Mr. Chang, swan-goose and friend, Lakeside, Arizona

An easy-to-teach white female non-disabled pupil is less likely to be placed in special education. “Points” pile up against children who display school problems across the board.

Placement Category

Four school categories are involved in incorrect placement:


Therefore, over-identification is not a single universe of school decision-making. There is an underlying universe defined empirically by perceived learning status.

Learning Status

A dispreferred pupil is more likely to be placed in segregating programs, including special education. Dispreferred pupils are more likely to drop out of school, have employment problems, develop criminal patterns, or go to prison.


The popular label for dispreferred children is “struggling children.” (See our prior posts on the topic.)

Disproportionality is not predicted solely by race and therefore is not an exclusive area of professional knowledge and training. Factors affecting struggling children cross the line between general education and special education.