Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Scott L. Decker


Reading, writing, and mathematics are crucial academic and life skills. Specific Learning Disability (SLD) in these areas is the most common disability in children and account for almost 40% of all students in special education. Special education law permits for the identification of these students in multiple ways; IQ/Achievement Discrepancy, Response to Intervention, or the use of other, alternative research-based procedures (e.g. Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses Model. There is variability within and across these methods, causing incongruity and inconsistency in rates. Other variables associated with SLD such as socioeconomic status, age, sex, and race also play important roles when identifying individuals with said disability. The current study examined SLD rates among school districts in South Carolina from 2008-2016 to explore variability in SLD rates and key covariates of these rates. Results of the study indicated the South Carolina mean SLD rate from 2007/2008-2016/2017 decreased but is nearly double the national average as of the 2016/2017 school year. Results also indicated a steady decrease in male SLD rate variability while general SLD rate variability among South Carolina school districts and specific covariates is concerning. Multi-level model analysis results show that as the number of males with SLD compared to females with SLD becomes closer, overall SLD rates decrease. Further, as district poverty index scores increase, SLD rates increase. Future research is needed to investigate specific SLD identification methods and how they impact rates along with the previously mentioned covariates.

Available for download on Friday, May 31, 2024