Cognitive characteristics of children with Mathematics Learning Disability (MLD) vary as a function of the cutoff criterion used to define MLD

Melissa M. Murphy, Michèle M.M. Mazzocco, Laurie B. Hanich, Martha C. Early

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

182 Scopus citations

Abstract

Researchers of mathematics learning disability (MLD) commonly use cutoff scores to determine which participants have MLD. Some researchers apply more restrictive cutoffs than others (e.g., performance below the 10th vs. below the 35th percentile). Different cutoffs may lead to groups of children that differ in their profile of math and related skills, including reading, visual-spatial, and working memory skills. The present study assesses the characteristics of children with MLD based on varying MLD definitions of math performance either below the 10th percentile (n = 22) or between the 11th and 25th percentile (n = 42) on the Test of Early Math Ability, second edition (TEMA-2). Initial starting levels and growth rates for math and related skills were examined in these two MLD groups relative to a comparison group (n = 146) whose TEMA-2 performance exceeded the 25th percentile. Between kindergarten and third grade, differences emerged in the starting level and growth rate, suggesting qualitative differences among the three groups. Despite some similarities, qualitative group differences were also observed in the profiles of math-related skills across groups. These results highlight differences in student characteristics based on the definition of MLD and illustrate the value of examining skill areas associated with math performance in addition to math performance itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-478
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Learning Disabilities
Volume40
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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