Agreement Between School Study Team Decisions and Authoritative Definitions in Classification of Students At-Risk for Mild Disabilities1

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This study investigated the degree to which school study teams (SSTS) considered and used results from traditional psychoeducational measures in determining eligibility or ineligibility for special education. Research definitions based on authoritative criteria were used to define three groups of students: learning disabled (n = 47), mild mental retardation (n = 43), and low achievers (n = 60). These three groups were then compared to SST classification decisions to determine relative rates of agreement and disagreement. Results showed that SSTs show relatively low rates of agreement with authoritative definitions of mild disability groups. Data from the current study suggest that SSTs are making classification decisions based on perceived educational need rather than test scores provided by school psychologists, and the extent to which these scores meet arbitrary eligibility criteria.

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