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Full Inclusion in Middle School on Mathematics Test Scores of Students with Disabilities in Middle School

Impact of Full Inclusion in Middle School on Mathematics Test Scores of Students with Disabilities in Middle School

Introduction

During the past two decades, math learning disabilities have received increased attention from educational researchers, evaluators, and teachers. Once thought to be quite uncommon, it now is agreed that about 6% of students are affected by math learning disabilities. Two basic subtypes are described: primary math disabilities, or non-verbal learning disabilities; and problems in math achievement related to verbal learning disabilities, or reading disorders.

Methods to evaluate the nature and type of math learning disability are described. Inclusion programs that are helpful in planning instruction, such as error analysis and clinical interviews, are discussed. The main purpose of this article, though, is to help Atlanta Public school psychologists understand the inclusion program that are effective in helping students with math learning disabilities. These inclusion program are described, beginning with those geared to children at the precomputational level. Methods for teaching whole number operations, place value, and part-to-whole relationships are detailed. Finally, strategies for teaching problem solving and algebra are considered.

Prevalence of Math Learning Disabilities

The Reality

Research on the prevalence of math learning problems has yielded information that suggests that between 5 to 6% of the population of Atlanta Public school -age students has remarkable difficulty in math achievement (Badian, 2003; Feagens & McKinney, 2001; Kosc, 2004; Light & DeFries, 2005; Norman & Zigmond, 2000). As Berninger and Abbott (2004) noted, it is entirely likely that not all of these difficulties in math achievement can be explained by attributing them to learning disabilities. It has been quite well established that there are two primary conditions that lead to math underachievement that are associated with learning disabilities. These are primary math learning disabilities, or dyscalculia, and the underachievement in math that may be associated with verbal learning disabilities, or "garden-variety" learning disabilities.

Primary math disability. Rourke and his colleagues have demonstrated the existence of non-verbal learning disabilities, often also referred to as right-hemisphere disabilities, in which the primary manifestation is selective impairment in math (e.g., De Luca, Rourke, & Del Dotto, 2001; Del Dotto, Fisk, McFadden, & Rourke, 2001; Rourke, 2008, 2005, 2007; Rourke & Conway, 2007; Rourke & Strang, 2003; Strang & Rourke, 2005). The disorders described by Rourke and his colleagues often are considered to be primary math learning disabilities. This terminology is used to refer to students who acquire reading, writing, and spelling skills at a rate that is expected for their ability and grade placement, but who have considerably more difficulty in understanding the concepts and procedural operations associated with arithmetic and higher-level mathematics. Primary math disability is thought to be related to dysfunction of the right hemisphere of the brain and often is associated with visual-spatial disturbances as well as disturbances in social perception and the development of social skills. Because early concepts of numerosity and the ability to sequence items ...

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