Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Edgar A. Kelley

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff

Third Advisor

Dr. James Sanders

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Joseph Eisenbach


The purpose of this study was to compare Hessler's (1985) procedure for determining a severe discrepancy between ability and achievement with two alternate procedures: (a) the "expert opinion" of learning disability teachers, and (b) the results of the multidisciplinary evaluation team report (MET). An ex post facto design was used. Hessler's procedure was applied using WISC-R full scale scores as the ability measure and reading, mathematics, and written language scores from Part 2 of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery as measures of achievement.

Subjects were 27 fourth and fifth grade students legally identified as learning disabled and receiving special education services in learning disability programs taught by certified teachers of the learning disabled. Each subject was enrolled in one of six school districts within a single special education region located in the state of Michigan. Both test scores and copies of the MET reports were obtained from confidential school records; questionnaires were used to collect the expert opinions of the learning disability teachers of the subjects.

Correlation coefficients were computed for the three procedures studied. Major findings were: (1) For reading achievement there was low, little, or no correlation between the procedures. (2) For mathematics achievement there was low to moderate correlation between the procedures. (3) For written language achievement there was low, little, or no correlation between the procedures.

Given these findings three unplanned post hoc examinations were made using correlation coefficients. One finding of this post hoc analysis was that the higher the student's IQ, the higher the correlation between IQ and the "expert opinion" that a severe discrepancy existed; this same correlation was not found when IQ was compared to the MET.

A conclusion of this study is that Hessler's (1985) procedure is as good as, but no better than, the two alternate procedures. Although Hessler's procedure is recommended, given the small number of subjects and level of strength of the findings, caution should be exercised in using it as a mandatory criterion for identification of learning disabled students.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access