A number of practitioners mention they had not received any training in this area and expressed a need to know more about the screening/assessment process.
We also wanted to know if practitioners and tutors had received training for using screening/assessment tools.
We were interested in determining the level of interest in receiving training in screening/assessment for learning disabilities.
The reported need for training in this area is consistent with the response patterns found in the diagnostic section that showed a high proportion of programs identify learners with learning disabilities, yet only 19% of respondents reported making use of a screening assessment tool of any kind.
This discrepancy and the previously reported low occurrence of referring students out for screening/assessments also corroborates our assumption that most identification of learning disabilities is made informally, rooted in practitioner experience of working with adults in the literacy field. It seems that experience is more often the teacher for literacy practitioners than formal training. Practitioners themselves, however, recognize this gap in their knowledge base and express the desire to learn more about screening and assessment.
Practitioners were asked to list the types of further training they or tutors in their program would like to receive regarding screening/assessment for learning disabilities. Practitioners stated, “I think it would be extremely useful to be able to identify if someone has a (learning disability)”, more information about referral resources available was also mentioned “how to make referrals and where to make referrals to.” Responses to this question ran the gamut of important issues associated with learning disabilities. Practitioners stressed interest in understanding how and where to make referrals for student screening/assessments, how to develop and use screening/assessment checklists and information about types of learning disabilities. It was also found that some practitioners were not familiar with the types of training available for understanding the screening/assessment process itself and indicated any type of training would be beneficial.