Early identification of learning disability in children of the Cape Flats area

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

There is a need for time-efficient screening assessment, preliminary to diagnostic evaluation, in order to identify learning disability children attending schools in the Cape Flats area. This practical issue needs to be addressed despite the controversy that rages concerning the theoretical aspects of learning disability, its problematic measurement issues and the confusion of research findings in the field. Three main issues are implicated when addressing this problem: (i) the theoretical controversy pertaining to the concept of learning disability. (ii) the theoretical issues concerning measurement and test theory related to the screening and prediction of learning disability. (iii) the practical issue of the validity and accuracy of a rating scale (in this research the Pupil Rating Scale) in relation to a standardized test used as a control (in this research the Aptitude Test for School Beginners). A literature survey indicated that the controversy pertaining to the field of learning disability is largely attributable to the lack of precise definition of the concept which affects research methodology and the interpretation of results. Using a psychological-educational definition of learning disability and attempting to avoid the methodological shortcomings of previous research, the present study adopted a longitudinal predictive approach to screening pupils of the Cape Flats area. These pupils all attended schools for the population group, designated Coloured (mixed blood) in South Africa.

Bibliography: pages 287-309.