Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Krista Robertson

Abstract

Working memory (WM) has long been associated with deficiencies in reading. Approximately 35% of students in the United States who receive special education services do so under the category of specific learning disability (SLD). The study's theoretical underpinning was Baddeley's model of WM; previous research revealed a significant literature gap regarding how WM difficulties affect eligibility for special education under the category of SLD in reading. In this quasi-experimental study, a purposive sample was taken from archival data of two groups of Kâ??12 students who had been referred for special education eligibility evaluation: The two groups were students evaluated for SLD in reading eligibility who (a) did not meet criteria and (b) did meet criteria. A one-way analysis of variance was conducted to determine whether a significant difference existed between the two group's score differences between a measure of global intelligence and WM. Archival Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th Edition, Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children, 2nd Edition, or Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities, 3rd Edition scores were used. Although no significant difference was evidenced between global intelligence and WM, the group that did not meet SLD criteria had significantly better WM scores than the group that was found eligible for SLD. By better understanding the relationship between WM and special education eligibility, practitioners may be able to implement more meaningful, better targeted research based interventions for enhancing learning outcomes for students with reading SLD, a group at high risk for high school drop out.

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