oversight

Learning Disabilities: The Link to Delinquency Should Be Determined, but Schools Should Do More Now

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-03-04.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                           DOCUMENT RESUME

00138 - [A08915481

Learning Disabilities: The Link to Delinquency Should Be
Determined, but Schools Should Do More Now. GGD-76-97; B-10'8530.
March 4, 1977. 45 pp. + 5 appendices (25 pp.).

Report to thl   Congress; 'Jy Robert P. Keller, Acting Comptroller
General.

Issue Area: Law Enforcement and Crime Prevention: uvenile
    Delinquency (505); Education, Training, and Employment
    Programs (1100).
Contact: General Government Div.
Budget Function: Education, anpower, and Sccial Services:
    Elementary, Secondary, and Vocational Education   501); Law
    E,.iorcement and ustice: Law Enforcelaent Assistance (754).
Organization Concerned: Department of Justice; Department of
    Health, Education, and elfare; Law Enfcrcement Assistance
    Administration.
Congressional Relevance: House Committee on the Judiciary;
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary; Congress.
Authority: Education of the Handicappcd Act, as amended (20
    U.S.C. 1411). Elementary and Secondary Education Act of
     1965, as amended (20 U.S.C. 1401). Education for All
    Handicapped children Act of 1975 (89 Stat. 773). Juvenile
    Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C.
    5601).
         There is roviJg evidence indicating a correlation
between .;hildren with learniny problems and children
demonstrating juven:ile delinquent behavior. Agencies and
institutions dealing with juvenile justce and education in five
States were visited, and consultants in remedial education
conducted numerous psychological tests to derive a sample of
learning problems of institutionalized Juveniles.
Findings/Conclusions: One-fourth of the juveniles tested in the
studies had primary learning problems. Academic underachievement
was graded as mild, moderate, or severe, corresponding from 2
years below grade level to the absence of all academic skills.
whether these disabilities caused delinquency is uncertain; the
guestion warrants further examination. Ameliorating such
disabilities is justified for its own sake; morecver, it just
may have the added benefit of reducing delinquency.
Recommendations: The exact relationship f these disabilities to
delinquency should be studied. The Department of Health,
Education, and welfare, in conjunction with the States, should
develop comparable prevalence rates of children with learning
disabilities, and the resources needed to ccmbat these problems.
The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration should require
juvenile correctional facilities to ake use of diagnostic
information helpful to the needs of their charges. (DJM)
cO




o::,           REPORT TO THE CONGRESS

                BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL
       '':   :' OF THE UNITED STATES




               Learning Disabilities:
               The Link To Delinquency
               Should Be Determined, But
               Schools Should Do More Now
               Departments of Justice and
               Health, Education, and Welfare


              One-fourth of the juvenile delinquents in
              institutions tested by GAO consultants had
              primary learning problems (learning disabili-
              ties). Whether these disabilities caused delin
              quency is uncertain; the question warrants
              further examination. The nature, extent, and
              direction of the relationship, if any, between
              learning disabilities and delinquent behavior
              should be determined.

              The Depaitment of Health, Education, and
              Welfare should develop prevalence rates of
              children having learning disabilities, determine
              the resources needed to combat the problems,
              and develop procedures so that such children
              are adequately diagnosed and treated.



              GGD-76-97                                     MAiC! ,   19 7   7
               COMPTRC4LER GENERAL OP THE UNITED
                                                 STATES
                          WASHINTON. D.C. 303




 B-168530




To the President of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Representatives

     This report discusses the extent of learning
among institutionalized juvenile delinquents       problems
                                             and
the efforts of public schools and correctional    describes
to deal with such problems.                    institutions

     We made this review because of the Nation's
juvenile delinquency problem and the mounting    growing
                                              evidence of
a correlation between children with learning
children demonstrating delinquent behavior   problems and
                                           patterns.
     We made our review pursuant
ing Act, 1921 (31 U.S.C. 53), and to the Budget and Account-
                                   the Accounting and Auditing
Act of 1950 (31 U.S.C. 67).
     We are sending copies of this report to
                                             the Director,
Office of Management and Budget; the
                                     Attorney General; and
the Secretary of Health, Education, and
                                        Welfare



                         ACTING Comp
                                   trol er  enra
                               of the United States
COMPTROLLER GENERAL'S       LEARNING DISABILITIES: THE LINK TO
REPORT TO THE CONGRESS      DELINQUENCY SHOULD BE DETERMINED,
                            BUT SCHOOLS SHOULD DO MORE NOW
                            Department of Justice
                            Department of Health, Education,
                              and Welfare

         DIGEST

         There is little doubt thac most juvenile de-
         linquents have behavior problems in school,
         and many may be "academic underachievers"--
         pupils of normal intelligence who are two or
         more years below the level expected for their
         ability,

         GAO investigated underachievement among uve-
         nile delinquents in institutions and found
         that about one-fourth of those tested by edu-
         cation consultants in Connecticut and Vir-
         ginia institutions had primary learning prob-
         lems or learning disabilities.   (See pp. 5 to
         9.)
         Whether these disabilities caused delinquency
         is uncertain.

         Compensating for or correcting such disabil-
         ities is justified for its own sake.    It just
         may have the added dividend  of  reducing delin-
         quency. There  is room for  much  improvement  in
         this regard in the public  school  system and  in
         institutions housiny delinquents.

          -- Four of the five States visited by GAOC--
             California, Connecticut, Texas, and Virginia--
             had no accurate estimates of the prevalence
             of learning disabilities among school-age
             children. (See pp. 23 to 26.)

          -- Correctional institutions were not effec-
             tively identifying and treating the learn-
             ing problems of delinquents and were con-
             strained from doing so.   (See pp. 16 to 19.)




   d Should e notd
 C5Wrs               oreo                               GGD-76-97
Where institutions had attempted to meet the
delinquents' educational needs

-- the detailed evaluation needed to determine
   a child's specific problem either was not
   done or

-- if done, thn prescribed recommendations
   were not received by the teacher, or the
   teaching staff was not trained adequately
   to implement or interpret the recommerda-
   tions.  (See pp. 19 to 22.)

To address the problem of children not re-
ceiving adequate help in the schools and to
improve efforts to help children in insti--
tutions, the Secretary of Healtn, Education,
and Welfare should direct the Assistant Sec-
retary for Education to develop, in conjunc-
tion with the States, valid and comparable
prevalence rates of children with learning
disabilities. The Secretary should then
determine the resources needed to combat the
problems and develop procedures so that such
children are adequately diagnosed and treated.
These steps would be consistent with the in-
tent of existing Federal legislation.

The Attorney General shoull direct the Admin--
istrator of the Law Enforcement Assistance
Administration to work closely with the
States in developing criminal justice plans
that require juvenile correctional institu-
tions to make use of diagnostic information
pertinent to the jveniles' educational needs
and problems.  (See pp. 42 and 43.)
One question that needs answering before an
effective Federal strategy to prevent juve-
nile delinquency can be developed is: To
what extent, if any, do learning disabilities
generz'.e precipitate, and/or contribute to
delinquent behavior? The Secretary of HEW
and the Attorney General should jointly
fund a study to determine the nature, ex.-
tent, and direction of the relationship, if
any, between learning disabilities and delin-
quent behavior.  (See p. 40 to 43.)

A positive relationship could significantly
affect the strategy of the Government in
                     ii
       addressing the roblem of juvenile delinquency.
       For example, more emphasis could be placed on
       special education programs for children with
       learning disabilities.    IL could also provide
       impetus  for considering  innovative and/or al-
       ternative approaches  to  the prevention f ju-
       veni.e delinquency  and  rehabilitation of juve-
       nile delinquents.

       For ezample, more emphasis could be placed on
       using the results of testing to determine
       disposition of juveniles when they come in
       contact with the juvenile justice system.
       (See pp. 41 and 42.)

       Another question with no ready answer is what
       to do about children who are unsuccessful in
       acquiring academic skills for a variety of
       reasons other than learning disabilities.
       About half of the delinquents tested by GAO
       consultants had secondary learning problems.
       Treating the causes of such problems may be
       beyond the capabilities or purpose of schools.

       The Department of Justice agreed with GAO's
       conclusion that learning problems are exten-
       sive among institutionalized juvenile delin-
       quents.

       It noted that the Law Enforcement Assistance
       Administration was undertaking studies of the
       incidence of learning disabilities among de-
       linquents and nondelinquents and the delin-
       quency reduction potential of a remedial pro-
       gram, and that the results of these studies
       would provide guidance for subsequent efforts.
       (See app. II.)

       These studies are an appropriate way of begin-
       ning such an effort.

       HEW concurred in   GAO's recommendation to de-
       velop prevalence   rates of children with learn-
       ing disabilities   and outlined certain steps
       it was taking in   that regard.   (See app. III.)

       The Department also concurred in the intent
       of the recommendation for a study to deter-
       mine the nature, extent, and direction of the
       relationship (if any) between learning

                             iii
5hr,
disabilities and delinquent behavior but noted
that

-- any such effort should be considered only
   after an operational definition of learning
   disabilities, which is currently being de-
   veloped, has een published in final form
   and

-- safeguards must be built into any sttudy so
   that researchers do not fall into the temp-
   tation of looking for a cause for juvenile
   delinquency.

In each of the five States, cnpies of the
draft report were provided to appropriate
State education and correctional agencies and
to the State criminal justice planning agency.
Their comments were considered in the report
and changes to the report have been made where
appropriate. Generally, the States agreed
with GAO's observations.




                    Iv
                        Contents
                                                        Page
DIGEST                                                    i
CHAPTER

    1     INTRODUCTION                                    1
              Learning problems and delinquency           2
              Objectives and scope of review              3
    2     WHAT ARE LEARNING PROBLEMS AND TO WHAT
            EXTENT ARE   ZH PROBLEMS EVIDENT AMONG
            JUVENILE DEuINQUENTS?                         5
              Learning problems defined                   5
              How extensive are leaLring roblems
                among juvenile delinquents?               7
    3     JUVENILE INSTITUTIONS FACE CERTAIN CON-
            STRAINTS IN ADDRESSING LEARNING PROBLEMS    16
              Emphasis on changing antisocial behav-
                 ior                                    16
              Fac:tors preventing institutions from
                effectively remediating learning
                problems                                17
    4     PUBLIC SCHOOLS NEED TO IDENTIFY AND TREAT
            CHILDREN WITH LEARNING PROBLEMS             23
              Limited commitment by the States to
                identify and treat children with
                learning problems                       23
              School districts' commitments varied
                in serving learning problem children    27
              Local public schools lack resources to
                identify and serve all children with
                learning problems                       29
    5     LIMITED FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT IN IDENTIFYING
            AND TREATING CHILDREN WITH LEARNING PROB-
            LEMS                                        33
              HEW policies and progra,s                 33
              LEAA policies and programs                36
    6     CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND AGENCY
            COMMENTS                                    40
              Conclusions                               40
             Recommendations                            42
             Agency comments                            43
APPENDIX                                                 Page
        I   Test methodology and definition of terms      46
       II   Letter dated November 11, 1976, from
              Assistant Attorney General for Adminis-
              tration, Department of Justice             55
  III       Letter dated October 21, 1976, from the
              Acting Assistant Secretary, Comptroller,
              HEW                                        59
      IV    HEW technical comments and our analysis      64
       V    Principal officials of the Department of
              Justice and the Department of Health,
              Education, and Welfare responsible for
              administering activities discussed in
              this report                                69
                        ABBEVIATIONS
SSEA        Elementary and Secondary Education Act
GAO         General Accounting Office
HEW         Department of Health, Education, and Wel-
              fare
LEAA        Law Enforcement Assistance Administration
                              CHAPTER 1

                            INTRODUCTION

     Efforts to reduce and control juvenile delinquency have
expanded in recent years.   However, youth arrests for all
crimes rose 138 percent from 1960 through   974.  In propor-
tion to the national population, juveniles (under 18 years of
age) are the largest contributors to the Nation's crime
problem.   The number of juvenile arrests in 1974 was about
1.7 million, more than 27 percent of the total arrests for
all age groups.   In that same year, juveniles accounted for
about 45 percent of all arrests for serious crimes committed
including:

     ---19 percent of all arrests for forcible rape.

     --10 percent   t.   all arrests for murder.

     --53 percent of all arrests for burglary.

     -- 33 percent of all arrests for robbery.

     --49 percent of all arrests for larcerv.

     -- 53 percent of all arrests for motor vehicle theft.

     Recidivism rates (repeat offenses) among juveniles are
also more severe than among adults, with estimated figures
ranging from 60 to 85 percent.

     The cost for crimes committed by juveniles is estimated
to be abcut $16 billion annually.  The average cost of incar-
ceration to the States is about $12,000 per year per -'-ild.
While these statistics are significant, the greatest cost of
all cannot be measured in dollars and cents--the immeasurable
loss of human life, personal secority, and wasted human
resources.

     Before passing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention Act of 1974, the Congress addressed the Nation's
growing delinquency problem through several acts.   Under each
piece of legislation, delinquency prevention was emphasized
as one of the primary action areas.   However, most Federal
funds programed for juvenile delia.quency were spent on reha-
bilitation projects for those already within the juvenile




                              1
justice system rather than on Programs designed to prevent
children from entering the system for the first time. 1/
     Based on the estimated high rates of recidivism among
juveniles, these rehabilitation programs seem to be less than
successful in either controlling or reducing juvenile crime.
     Many factors, including social, cultural, and familial,
contribute to a child's delinquency. It is rarely possible
to pinpoint one factor alone as being the primary cause. Many
theories have been developed on the causes of juvenile delin-
quency, but no easy cure-all will be found to eliminate it.
However, one rea which may have potential for affecting
delinquent behavior is the Nation's public school systems.

LEARNING PROBLEMS AND DELINQUENCY

     Growing evidence, being established by experts in
education, medicine, law enforcement, justice, and juvenile
corrections, indicates a correlation between children expe-
riencing academic failure (learning problems) and children
demonstrating delinquent behavior patterns. This evidence
further indicates that children with learning problems run a
risk of turning to delinquency and crime to find the success
they failed to achieve within the public schools.
     Children with learning problems often experience failure
in a regular classroom situation. Psychologists !iave shown
that continued school failure often results in the child
developing a negative self-concept and a high level of frus-
tration. The child may begin to become a behavioral and/or
a truant problen, for the school. If the problem persists,
th child can be suspended, expelled, or he may eventually
just drop out.
     Misconduct seems to be related to a child's academic
standing in school, with the hignest rates among those with
poor grades. A number of factors contribute to this rela-
tionship.

     1. In our society, school is the only major legitimate
        activity for children between the ages of 6 and 18.


1/One of our reports to the Congress entitled, "How Federal
  Efforts To Coordinate Programs To Mitigate Juvenile Delin-
  quency Proved Ineffective" (GGD-75-76, 4/21/75) discussed
  the ineffectiveness of previous Federal efforts to prevent
  or reduce juvenile delinquency.



                             2
       If a child fails in school, generally there is
       little else in which he can be successful.

    2. The academically unsuccessful child generally does
       not experience the rational constraints against
       committing a delinquent act.

    3. Delinquency and misbehavior become a way for the
       failing child to express his frustration at those
       who disapprove of his academic underachievement.
       This disapproval comes not only from parents and
       teachers, but also from other children who are
       keenly aware of school status based on performance.

     Among children who have learning problems are those who
have primary learning problems (learning disabilities).   (See
ch. 2 for definition of terms.)  If these deficiencies  are
not identified, the child may be pushed along in the regular
classroom year aftes year and fall further and further behind.
But in nearly every case, the difficulties can be allejiated
or corrected if diagnosed in time.

OBJECTIVES AND SCOPE OF REVIEW
     We made this review because of the 1) significant
increases in juvenile crime, (2) growing evidence indicating
a correlation between children with learning problems and
children demonstrating delinquent behavior patterns, and
(3) expanding number of studies indicating that the public
schools can have a measurable effect on reducing juvenile
crime. We wanted to determine
     -- how extensive learning problems are among juvenile
        delinquents in institutions,

     --how juvenile institutions identify learning problems
       and deal with them in their rehabilitatior programs,

     -- what programs are in effect in the public schools to
        identify children with learning problems and treat
        such problems, and

     -- what the involvement of the Federal Government has
        bten in the learning problem area.

     We made our review in California Colorado, Connecticut,
Texas, and Virginia. In each of the five States, we did work
at the State criminal justice planning agency, State department
of correction, State juvenile reception centers, and State-
operated institutions for juvenile 'elinquents.

                              3
     In all five States except California, we visited all
of the State-operated institutions. In California, we
visited 3 of the 11 institutions--2 housing males and
1 housing females--because they were the only ones which
mostly contained children 18 years old and under and, thus,
were comparable to the other States' institutions.

     We also visited the States' departments of education,
23 selected school districts, 50 elementary schools, and
3C secondary schools (junior and senior high schools). We
interviewed 373 classroom teachers and over 300 other school
officials, including superintendents, assistant superintend-
ents, principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors,
and educational specialists.

     We hired consultants specializing in remedial education
to test juveniles chosen randomly from institutions in
Connecticut and Virginia. Sixty of the 347 juveniles in the
4 institutions in Connecticut were tested between July and
September 1975. Sixty-nine of the 1,247 juveniles in the
7 institutions in Virginia were tested in February and
March 1975. The results provide a statistically reliable
picture for the institutionalized children o the States when
the tests were made. The purpose of these tests was to
     -- determine the extent of learning problems among
        juvenile delinquents,
     -- determine which cof the juveniles had primary   earning
        problems (learnilc disabilities), and

     -- identify the differing educational needs of juveniles
        with various types of problems.

     In addition, we reviewed the efforts of the Law Enforce-
ment Assistance Administration (LEAA) and the Office of
Education, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW)
to determine the extent to which they were addressing the
identification and treatment of children with learning
problems.




                              4
                                CHAPTER 2

       WHAT ARE LEARNING PROBLEMS AND TO WHAT EXTENT ARE

       SUCH PROBLEMS EVIDENT AMONG JUVENILE DELINQUENTS?

     Evidence linking crime and delinquency with learning
problems has been accumulating at an expanding rate.  Attempts
to demonstrate this relationship have generally used the term
"learning disabilities."  We encountered variations in defin-
ing this term, ranging from a narrow, strict interpretation
to a very wide categorization that includes any disorder which
inhibits a youth from learning in accordance with his full
ability and potential.

LEARNING PROBLEMS DEFINED

     To determine the extent and significance of such academic
deficiencies among adjudicated delinquents, our consultants
tested a random sample of juveniles institutionalized in
Ccnnecticut and Virginia. Their test results showed a myriad
of academic problems, any of which could be classified as a
learning disability, depending upon the definition used. To
recognize all of the academic deficiencies found, the consult-
ants developed the term "learning problems" and riroke it down
into three main categories and two subcategories as follows:
(The test methodology and terms are defined  n detail in
appendix I.)




                      CLASSIFRCATION OF CHILD
                           LEARNING PROBLEM


   SATISFACTORY   LIMITED ACADEMIC         MILD        MODERATE        SEVERE
  SLOW LEARNER        POTENTIAL
                                                   UNDERACHIEVER

                                         PRIMARY LEARNING         SECONDARY
                                             PROBLEM        | | LEARNING PROBLEM




                                     5
     The consultants defined juveniles as having learning
problems if they were unable to perform in a satisfactory
manner within 2 years of the grade level corresponding to
their age.  The consultants considered these juveniles to be
in trouble and needing additional support in order to func-
tion adequately within an academic setting. Those who func-
tioned 2 years or more below grade level were divided into
three main categories.

     1. Satisfactory slow learners--The consultants
        classified juveniles as satisfactory slow learners
        if they had a low average or slightly below average
        intellectual ability and were achieving within
        2 years of the grade level expected for their abil-
        ity, as opposed to their age.

     2. Limited acadenmic potential--The consultants classi-
        fied juveniles as having limited academic poten-
        tial if their current intellectual functioning was
        so low that they could not be expected to acquire
        skills above elementary school level. These juve-
        niles had serious conceptual deficits, often
        accompanied by serious perceptual deficits. Some
        were evenly lagging in all areas of intellectual
        development, while others evidenced the striking
        discrepancies in functioning which, at a higher
        intellectual level, would suggest a learning dis-
        ability. However, the juveniles placed in this
        category would be severely limited in their academic
        progress, even with excellent remedial instruction.

     3. Underachievers--The consultants classified juveniles
        as underachievers if they had normal intelligence
        and were achieving 2 or more years below the level
        expected for their ability in one or more academic
        areas. The consultants considered a juvenile's
        underachievement as (1) mild if it was just about
        2 years below the level oE-xpectancy, (2) moderate
        if the deficit was greater than 2 years, but above
        the primary (first and second grade) level, or (3)
        severe if the juvenile had been unable to achieve
        basic skills in reading, written expression, or
        arithmetic. The severity of a given juvenile's
        underachievement was determined on the basis of his
        most serious skill deficit. The achievement of any
        given juvenile always reflects a variety r personal
        and social, as well as educational factors. Most of
        the adolescents in the test who showed signs of


                             6
        having learning disabilities also had experienced
        the kinds of life situations that create secondary
        learning problems. For the purpose cf this review,
        a juvenile showing signs of a learning disability
        was characterized as having a primary learning
        problem, even though secondary factors might have
        been present. Because of the presence of these
        secondary factors, underachievement could not be
        attributed solely to the severity of the learning
        disability. The consultants, therefore, measured
        the underachievement in terms of grade level and
        indicated whether or not a learning disability was
        present but did not specify the degree of correla-
        tion between learning disabilities and achievement.

        a. Primary learning roblem
           (learning disability)

           The term "primary learning problem" (learning
           disability) refers to a demonst *ted inability
           to perform a specific task normily found within
           t.e capability range of individuals of comparable
           mental capacity. It involves deficits in essen-
           tial learning processes having to do with percep-
           tion, integration, and verbal and nonverbal expres-
           sion. Juveniles with learning disabilities gener-
           ally demonstrate underachievement in one or more
           academic areas: oral language expression, reading,
           spelling and written expression, or arithmetic.

        b. Secondary learning problem

           Those underachieving juveniles who did not show
           the definitive signs of a learning disability
           were considered to have a secondary learning
           problem. The youngsters may have been rela-
           tively unsuccessful in acquiring academic skills
           because (1) their attendance did not allow for
           sufficient instruction, (2) serious familial
           or social problems prevented full attention
           being given to their educational development,
           or (3) emotional or behavioral difficulties
           interfered with their ability to profit from
           instruction.

HOW EXTENSIVE ARE LEARNING PROBLEMS
AMONG JUVENILE DELINQUENTS?

     On the basis of our test results in Connecticut and
Virginia, academic deficiencies are extensive mong the
States' institutionalized juvenile delinquent populations.


                             7
     Of the 129 juveniles tested in the two States:

     -- 1 was found to be functioning at the grade level
        which corresponded to his age.
     -- 33 (26 percent) were found to have primary learning
        problems.
     --66 (51 percent) were found to have secondary learning
       problems.
     -- 25 (19 percent) were classified as having limited aca-
        demic potential.
     --4 (3 percent) were classified as satisfactory slow
       learners.
     The average age of the juveniles tested in Connecticut
and Virginia institutions was 16.3 years and 15.6 years,
respectively. However, these juveniles were functioning at
about the 4th grade level i arithmetic and written expres-
sion and at about the 5th grade level in reading.

     When the grade level expected for the age was compared
with the functioning grade level of those juveniles with a
primary learning problem, the disparity grew considerably.
For example, juveniles in Virginia with a primdry learning
problem had an average age of 16.2 years and would have nor-
mally been placed in l1th grade classes. These juveniles were
actually functioning at the 3.8 grade level in reading and
arithmetic and at te 3.2 grade level for written expression.

    The detailed results of our tests follow.




                            8
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                                                                                                   P'' g.~g                        9
     Several of the children our consultants tested illustrate
the nature and extent of the problems.
     -- Bill is a 14-year-old Caucasian boy of average intel-
        ligence with normal speech, hearing, and vision. He
        has been known to the court since February 1975 for
        offenses, such as burglary, larceny, possession o. a
        marihuana, reckless driving, and running away from
        court-ordered placement in a therapeutic school.

       His father is described as a rigid, somewhat brutal
       individual who was a heavy drinker at the time of his
       marriage in 1958. He provided little emotional or
       physical support to the family, particularly when the
       eldest child (Bill's only sibling) was dying of
       leukemia. At that point he left the home and his
       present whereabouts are unknown. Bill's mother, a
       high school graduate, is described as a vacillating
       person who is heavily dependent on Bill and appears
       unable to make any firm decisions. She has been sep-
       arated for 2 years from her present husband, largely
       because he and Bill could not get along.

       Bill has had great difficulties in school since the
       first grade. Having been retained in two grades, he
       found himself in sixth grade considerably older than
       his fellow students. This, combined with a long
       standing reading problem and his inability to operate
       in a classroom situation, led to a referral to a local
       Child Development Center. When he  was placed  in the
       residential school and therapy program there, consid-
                                                           be-
       erable progress was noted both in the academic and as
       havioral areas. He was described  by his teachers
       the classic high interest, low skill level student.
       He was unable to return to the Child Development
       Center in the fall of 1974, simply because he was older
       than the program would allow. His termination summary
       noted that:
             "Bill is just beginning to find some success
             in a school environment and it has improved
             his approach toward his peers and adults. To
             remove this from him at this time would be
             drastic and will lead to ultimate failure edu-
             cationally and socially. He has begun to
             trust people and deeply desires to be trusted
             by others. The approach must be a positive
             experience in order for Bill Go achieve
             progress, and to push him into a regular
             classroom setting would be premature, and the
             results would probably be negative."

                              10
 In spite of efforts to find another placement, it was
 necessary to return Bill to the public school system.
 This was met with a good deal of resistance on the
 part of school personnel and little effort was made
 to accommodate a specialized program for him. As
 late as mid-November, a school referral was not deemed
 necessary by the vice-principal because "Bill is no
 worse than several other students here, and we have
 no intention of referring them." It was in the fol-
 lowing February that Bill had his first contact with
 the juvenile authorities.
 The evaluation of Bill during our study indicated a boy
 of average intelligence with a primary learning problem
 affecting reading and writing. Although about to turn
 15, Bill is still confusing look-alike words and losing
 his place when he reads. He reads beep for deep, was
 for saw, grand for parade. He sometimes writes n when
 he means m and changes letter order in words. Although
 his vision is adequate, his ability to translate what
 he sees is immature and, thus, he reverses letters
 and transposes letter order. The general result is
 an academic skill level ranging from second to fourth
 grade in a boy who is in the tenth grade. The need
 for a specialized program seems clear. The results
 of not having such a program in this case are equally
 clear.
-- Gary, a 17-year-old black male, is a very proud and
   defensive young man. He sat with his shoulders held
   back and one arm thrown over the back of the chair.
   There was little background information available,
   and family issues were no longer primary, for he had
   for some years been with a street gang where he had
   apparently developed something of a following. Gary
   gave evidence of a stronq feeling of responsibility
   for "his people," and he as likewise dependent upon
   their assistance in certain areas--reading, for
   example. In the institution where he was tested, he
   had been placed in a special group guidance program
   where he was getting some occasional assistance from
   his peers.

  Gary's intelligence is sufficent for him to be
  considered in the normal range, although he would
  technically be called a "slow learner."  He has much
  greater difficulty with verbal expression, however,
  than most other youngsters with a similar cultural
  background. His vocabulary and grammar are a bit
  below average, as might be expected, but he also has
  trouble expressing very common ideas and concepts.


                        11
 He manages to be generally coherent but often strug-
 gles to express himself adequately to peers and
 teaclers.

Gary has difficulty seeing the difference between
letters that are similar (such as d, b, , and ,
or h, r, and n), and, thus, has trouble using sight
vocabulary alone for reading. He confuses words such
as show and snow and chill and cliff. Although he
can make the fine sound discrimnations necessary for
learning to sound out words, he is very poor at blend-
ing these sounds together (e.g., to make be_ from
b-e-2). He is able to work his way throu g second
grade reading material, but during testing when he
read a third grade selec-:on, he declared "No sense."
Because of his generall-y  # level of language skill,
he is not as able to usi  .e context to help him with
unknown words as other students might be. Gary's
spelling reflects the same difficulties, and he is
able to put only the simplest thoughts in written
form.
Gery is a bit more advanced in arithmetic.   He can
add and subtract, borrowing and carrying when need be,
and can multiply by two digits. Sometimes he can
divide correctly, but he frequently becomes confused
and stops in the middle of an item. He has been
relatively successful in seeing relationships between
numbers, but it is hard for him to understand verbal
instructions that would help him when he is frustrated.

 Gary was very proud to be in the speciai program
 because of the status it gave. He had a room with
 curtains, not a cell. He faithfully attended the
meetings "to see if you got any growth in you." He
was pleased to be able to add to the simple words
given to hm on a spelling test the "big" wrds he
had learned from a roup mate through hard and
repetitious practice--relationship, conversation,
situation, and tolerate. Given is age, interests,
and the severity of his difficulty, Gary will never
go on for advanced education. The fact that he was
voluntarily expending effort to learn these
which enhanced his self-esteem, however, madewords
                                               it seem
likely that he would profit from further remedial
instruction. He would have to be approached in a
manner that would allow him to work on the most  prac-
tical skills and still maintain his self-respect.




                      12
-- Joe is a 15-1/2-year-old Spanish-surnamed youngster
   who has no physical disabilities and whose develop-
   mental history has been nornmal. He reports that he
   has always been bilingual, but feels that English is
   by far the stronger language, sincelhd has spoke. it
   for as long as he can remember and speaks Spanish
   only with his mother. His conversational English is
   fluent and unaccented.

 Joe is the fifth of seven children and assumes a great
 deal of responsibility for supervising his younger
 brother. His father is "an abusing alcoholic" who has
 only marginal contact with the family. Je's behavior
 at home is always cooperative and respectful, as
 expected in his ethnic group. Joe has worked with a
 youth corps program and contributed over half his
 salary to his mother. Unfortunately, the home situa-
 tion has been rather unstable, with his mother and
 her common-law husband jailed recently on drug posses-
 sion charges. The mother is also ill and under
 treatment for diabetes.
 Court records indicate that Joe has gotten in trouble
 for fighting in the community and has a history of
 excessive truancy from school. His recent commitment
 to the detention center is for burglary.  Joe's ninth
 grade transcript indicates that he was taking courses
 for low average students, such as English I, Basic
 World History, Math I, Art I, Earth Science, and Power
 Mechanics--all of which he failed because he did not
 attend classes. The transcript does not indicate
 whether he has ever had any sort of special education.
 The probation officer attributes Joe's poor school
 record to "low native intelligence and cultural lag."

 Joe was friendly and cooperative with us and worked
 diligently during testing. He was able to persist,
 even when tasks were difficult for him, and was very
 responsive to instruction. Considering his severe
 academic limitations, his willingness to invest time
 and energy in a learning situation was rather remark-
 able. Aptitude tests indicated that Joe has average
 intellectual potential i. a nonverbal situation.  The
 tests showed he does not have "low native intel-
 ligence" but that he has "average native intelli-
 gence" with specific learning disabilities.

 Although his nonverbal skills fall solidly in the
 middle of the average range, Joe's verbal skills are


                        13
borderline mentally deficient, no doubt because of
many factors. His background certainly suggests
heavy cultural deprivation. If he did not learn at
school, his home provided him no support or encourage-
ment. In addition, it was evident in testing that he
has deficits in auditory memory. Since he could not
retain a large proportion of the information which he
heard, he could not use the resources of the school
to compensate for the limited intellectual stimulation
at home. However, he shows relative strength in prac-
tical social judgment--he knows how to handle social
situations appropriately, within the realm of his
experience.

Joe also shows deficits in visual perception, which
severely hamper him in reading. He confuses the
sequence of letters in words. Even after 10 years of
school experience, he still reads form for from and
saw for was. Directional confusion is evident in his
writing wNere he has difficulty remembering how to
form a d and confuses it with a b. In spelling he
tends to confuse the sequence of letters in words,
such as ligth for light. Some auditory perceptual
problems are evidenced in very unphonetic spellings
in which the sequence of sounds is very distorted.
Although trying hard to sound out the words, he wrote
crater for correct and erzot for result.

Joe is functioning at the second grade level in the
language arts areas of reading, spelling and writing,
although in arithmetic he functions at the fifth grade
level. The relative strength of arithmetic over the
written language skills is important. If this stu-
dent's problems were merely poor motivation and
repeated truancy, arithmetic would be the subject that
would suffer the most, for arithmetic needs consistent
practice and specific instruction. Students who have
learned to read normally continue to be literate even
if they do not attend school. It is common, however,
to lose arithmetic skills if they are not used in
daily life.

At this time there would certainly be no reason for
Joe to attend school.  It would be a waste of time for
him to sit in classes where he would be expected to
read at junior high level. The probation officer's
assumption that Joe "probably can no longer benefit
from a formalized education" is certainly correct if
regular school programs are the only options. How-

                      14
       ever, our experience with Joe suggested that he might
       considerably improve his reading nd writing skills
       if he could have appropriate remedial instruction,
       TI: probation officer's attempts to help Joe find
       "appropriate employment" will not be very fruitful
       unless Joe can be educated to a level of functional
       literacy. In short, unless his learning disability
       is directly addressed, he has little hope of becoming
       a productive citizen.
      Overall, the results of the testing in Connecticut and
Virgin!s  substantiate similar studies conducted in other
States which also showed considerable academic underachieve-
ment in their delinquent populations    For example:
     --9U percent of the adjudicated delinquents tested in
       a study conducted by the State of Colorado's Division
       of Youth Services were diagnosed as having learning
       problems.

     -- 90 percent of the girls tested in a Tennessee State
        reformatory were 2 to 7 years below their grade in
        reading.
     -- 70 percent of the delinquent youths tested in a
        Rhode Island study were found to have measurable dis-
        abilities significant enough to warrant professional
        attention.
     --57 percent of the youths referred to the
       Norfolk, Virginia, Youth and Family Clinic by the
       juvenile court were found to have general learning
       disabilities.
     Recognizing that a lrge segment of the delinquent
population in institutions has major learning problems, ques-
tions arise about the efforts of correctional systems to
address this situation. How are juveniles with learning prob-
lems identified in the correctional systems? Do juvenile n-
stiLutions address learning problems in their rehabilitation
programs?




                             15
                          CHAPTER 3
             JUVENILE INSTITUTIONS FACE CERTAIN

         CONSTRAINTS IN ADDRESSING LEARNING PROBLEMS

     While academic education is considered an integral part
of a youth's rehabilitation, changing the child's antisocial
behavior is the institution's primary objective.

     To meet the educational needs of a delinquent child, in-
stitutions face several constraints, including (1) the rela-
tively short time a child s confined and (2) the severity
of the child's problems, emotional as well as academic, that
have been built tip through successive years of failure. Where
attempts have been made to meet the child's academic needs,
however, the institutions either failed to perform the neces-
sary diagnostic evaluations or, ii such evaluations were made,
trained teaching staffs were not available to interpret and
follow the recommended teaching approach.

     The juvenile correctional systems varied to some extent
in the five States; however, the general goals and objectives
of the systems were basically the same.

     -- Reduce crime and delinquency.

     -- Rehabilitate youths through care, supervision, treat-
        inent, education, and training.

     -- Develop the individual capability of each child.

     -- Research and study youths committed to the system.

     Some factors considered in placing youths i    rrectional
institutions were age, sex, maturity level, physical size,
and aggressiveness.

     Each of the States' correctional systems also place de-
linquents in group and foster homes, local and community de-
tention centers, and various other facilities.

EMPHASIS ON CHANGING ANTISOCIAL BEHAVIOR

     While the continued education of a delinquent child is
considered important, the primary objective of the correc-
tional systems is to change the child's behavior patterns.
Correction officials stated that the children were committed
because their behavior brought them into conflict with society
and, therefore, the institution must try to change these


                              16
behavior patterns before fully addressing the child's educa-
tional needs.

     To illustrate this emphasis, improvement in behavior is
the primary factor used when considering a child for release
from the institution. For example, in Conecticut youths
committed for serious offenses, such as rape, murder, armed
robbery, assault, and arson, must pass through five levels of
behavior improvement--freshman, sophomore, junior, senior,
and release eligible. Promotion from one level to the next
is dependent upon two factors:   (1) time (1 month as a fresh-
man and 2 months for each of the four remaining levels) and
(2) meeting the behavior improvement objectives established
within each of the levels.

     The Texas system is very similar to Connecticut's.
Although the programs and exact requirements varied in the
other States, the main emphasis was on behavior improvement.

     For exampl'e, in Colorado a decision to release a child
from an institu ion is based primarily on the judgment of the
professional staff, using as the primary consideration the
extent to which the child has properly behaved. The State's
basic program for developing acceptable behavior addresses
the different reasons why various children demonstrate anti-
social behavior and recommends different treatment alter-
natives so the youth "will not get deeper and deeper into a
cycle of delinquent behavior." Each treatment program
consists of four major elements.

     -- A treatment schedule of predictable consecutive treat-
        mient phases.

     -- Treatment goals and objectives.

     -- Suggestions for placement alternatives.

     -- Recommended worker roles for such individuals as ther-
        apists, teachers, and peers.
FACTORS PREVENTING INSTITUTIONS
FROM EFFECTIVELY REMEDIATING
LEARNING PROBLEMS

     According to correction officials, even if they were to
place additional emphasis on education, including the remedi-
ation of learning problems as opposed to behavior modifica-
tion, two interrelated factors would inhibit the effort:  (1)
the extent and severity of the delinquent's learning problem



                              17
and (2) the relatively short period of time the child is in-
stitutionalized.

     The educational diagnostic tests administered by our con-
sultants in Connecticut and Virginia documented the extent and
severity of the juveniles' learning problems. Virtually
100 percent of the juveniles tested were significantly behind
academically in relation to their age and ability levels.
For example, the average age of the delinquent population
tested was about 16 years. The test results, however,
showed that these children were, on the average, functioning
at about the fourth to fifth grade level academically.
     Correction officials also stated that, by the time the
juvenile has reached the institution, the problem has been
magnified in that the youth (1) has usually experienced
sev!ral years of failure in school, (2) is frustrated by the
apparent inability to learn, and (3) is plagued by feelings of
inadequacy and lowered self-confidence. In other words,
the child is "turned off" academically.
     The second factor is the relatively short period of con-
finement of the children as shown by recent statistics (mostly
1974) readily available from the institutions visited.

                        Number of       Range of average
    State              institutions   period of confinement
California                 3          10    to 11 months
Colorado                   4           6    to 9 months
Connecticut (note a)       4          4.3   months--juveniles
                                      10    months--adults,
                                              ages 16, 17, and 18
Texas                      4           6    to 8 months
Virginia                   7           6    to 13 months
a/In Connecticut, youths 16 to 18 were treated as adults,
  whereas in the other States they were considered juveniles.

     After reviewing the situations in the institutions in
Connecticut and Virginia, our consultants believed that total
remediation of the types and seriousness of the learning prob-
lems evidenced by the tested children was not likely, given
the short time the juveniles were confined.

     The consultants felt, however, that for some of the
children the time spent in the detention center was the best
opportunity they had had for a concentrated educational ex-
perience.



                               18
      Recognizing the constraints under which
 must operate, improvements could be           the institutions
                                      made in identifying and
 treating learning problems. Although
                                        State correctional in-
 stitutions attempt to meet the delinquents'
 we were told that either the necessary       educational needs,
                                         detailed
 evaluations needed to determine a child's        diagnostic
 were not performed or, if they were,       specific problems
 mendations were ot received by the the prescribed recom-
 staffs were not adequately trained teachers or the teaching
                                    to implement or interpret
 the recommendations.

 Failure of institutions to either use
 perform diagnoStfic vauation          or

      A child committed to - juvenile correctional
 first sent to a reception center.                    system is
conducts initial tests, (2) reviews The  reception  center    (1)
 (3) introduces the youth to life in the child's prior history,
                                     the institution, and (4)
decides on the placement and rehabilitation
ing on the State, initial testing ranged      program. Depend-
ademic achievement tests to an extensive   from a few basic ac-
tion. In Colorado, Texas, and Virginia,    diagnostic   evalua-
each child was given certain basic         we were  told   that
                                    tests, ncluding academic
achievement, psychological, and med'cal
the initial series of tests, additional tests.     Based on
performed if, in the opinion of the       indepth  testing   was
                                     diagnostician,    such  test-
ing was warranted. The three States,
                                       however, differed in
the uses made of the test data.

      For example, in Virginia the data
needs assessment for each child. The was used to produce a
                                        needs assessment defined
the emotional, behavioral, and educational
child and recommended a treatment program problems of the
                                             to address each of
the areas. The assessment, along with
were forwarded to the institution where  the  recommendations,
                                          the  child was placed.
However, there was no assurance that
transferred to the institution school the  information  was
                                       or received by the
child's teachers.

     For example, the school principal at
institutions stated that diagnostic         one of the seven
available to the school staff when evaluations were not
                                    the child was enrolled.
Information which usually accompanied
                                       the child consisted of
prior academic records, when available,
                                         and achievement test
results administered at the reception
The-e were used to determine grade     and  diagnostic center.
                                    placement.
officials, including the superintendent          Correction
                                         of
school system, acknowledged this situation   the institutional
corrective action was being taken.           and stated that



                             19
     In Colorado the tests identified the specific learning
problems and an educational prescription was written; how-
ever, school officials at the institutions stated that the
teaching staffs were unable to understand or follow the pre-
scriptions.

     California and Connecticut used a different testing ap-
proach. We were told that educational evaluations were gen-
erally limited to a series of academic achievement tests
which were used to determine only the child's grade function-
ing level.

     Connecticut correction officials stated that no indepth
educational evaluations were miade because the institution was
not authorized to employ a tester and existing staff was not
qualified to administer or interpret such tests.
      In California we were told tests that might show the
extent of a child's learning problems were given only on a
selected basis. This additional testing was conducted on
only those who had scored low on tests administered n a
federally funded education program (Elementary and Secondary
Education Act, title I). The testing was performed only at
the discretion of the psychologists. Educational recommenda-
tions were then prepared and sent to the children's teachers,
but nio other actions were taken.

Lack of adequately trained teaching staffs

     Even if initial testing provided accurate identification
of learning problems, the institutions lacked special educa-
tion teachers trained to help children overcome such problems.
Of the 353 teachers in the institutions visited, only about
6 percent were certified in special education. 1/
                         "otal           Certified
           State       teachers      Number    Percent

        California        119           3          3
        Colorado           32           3          9
        Connecticut        32           1          3
        Texas              96           9          9
        Virginia           74           5          7
                          353          21        5.9



1/Certification is not the only measure of a teacher's abil-
  ity to effectively deal with learning problems, but it is a
  readily available measure that does not involve having to
  specifically observe each teacher's performance to judge
  his or her ability.
                                20
     The random testing of delinquents for learning problems
conducted by the consultants in Connecticut and Virginia
showed that 28 and 23 percent, respectively, of the insti-
tution population had primary learning problems. An addi-
tional 15 and 23 percent, respectively, were classified as
having limited academic potential.  In the Nation's public
school systems, all of these children could be classified as
handicapped and, therefore, would qualify for special educa-
tion programs taught by certified special education teachers.

     Not only are special education teachers in short supply,
but, according to appropriate officials in all five States,
the regular classroom teachers generally are not trained in
how to recognize or evaluate a juvenile's learning problem
or which teaching methods and techniques should be used in
attempting to remediate such problems.
     In the Connecticut and Virginia institutions, we inter-
viewed 58 teachers of juveniles who were tested by our con-
sultants and were found to have a primary learning prob-
lem. In 78 percent of the interviews, the teachers were un-
aware that these children had such problems.

     As shown in the following table, in 33 percent of the
interviews (19 of 5), the teachers attributed the juveniles'
poor academic performance to such factors as lack of motiva-
tion or a bad attitude.


               Factors Which Teachers Believed
                Caused Academic    EFfFT??TciiT
                                           Number of interviews
               Reason                       in which mentioned

Lack of motivation and poor attitude                6
Immaturity and lack of social skills                4
Low self-image                                      2
Emotional problems                                  3
Other (low I.Q., slow learner, lazy,
  poor home)                                        4

   Total                                           19




                              21
     For example, one teacher said that a particular juvenile
was "just plain lazy."  Our consultant's tests showed that the
juvenile had a severe primary learning problem (a language dis-
ability in both understanding others and verbal expression).
     In the five correctional systems reviewed, 94 percent of
the officials interviewed believed that there is a possible
relationship between learning problems and juvenile delin-
quency. They indicated that, while other factors contributed
toward delinquency, such as poor home environmei    lack of
close family relationships, and cultural and economic depri-
vation, learning problems can be considered one of the pri-
mary contributing factors. Eighty-five percent of the of-
ficials questioned believe] that adolescent learning problems
can be remediated, but th;at the earlier a learning problem
is identified, the easier it is to treat.

     Finally, 89 percent of the correction officials ques-
tioned believed that identifying and treating learning prob-
lems early in school could be an effective method of helping
to prevent juvenile delinquency.

     Considering the apparent inability of juvenile institu-
tions to remediate learning problems and the opinions of both
correctional officials and our consultants on the need for
early identification and treatment of such problems, the
question arises: What efforts are being made by the Nation's
public school systems to identify and treat learning prob-
lems early in a child's life?




                             22
                             CHAPTER 4
               PUBLIC SCHOOLS NEED TO IDENTIFY AND

              TREAT CHILDREN WITH LEARNING PROBLEMS

     The Nation's public schools are not adequately identi-
fying or providing the necessary educational programs to
treat all children with either primary or secondary learning
problems. In all States visited, there were children in the
classrooms who were

       -- having academic difficulties but were waiting to be
          referred for testing;

       -- waiting to be tested; or

       -- having been tested and found to have a learning prob-
          lem, were waiting to be placed in a special program.
Thus, children can be caught up in a cycle of academic failure
and frustration, which may be one of the major contributing
factors to the growing delinquency problem.

LIMITED COMMITMENT BY THE STATES TO IDENTIFY
AND TREAT CHILDREN WITH LEARNING PROBLEMS

     Education officials in the five States generally agreed
that there is a possible relationship between learning prob-
lems and juvenile delinquency, and that the key to successful
remediation or compensation of such problems is early identi-
fication and treatment. The States' commitment to meet the
needs of children with learning problems, however, has been
limited. The emphasis at the State level has generally been
on the needs of children with primary learning problems.
This emphasis has been provided through special education for
the handicapped pLograms. The States' efforts to identity and
provide program services for children with secondary learning
problems have been minimal.

State mandates pertaining to children
w th   imary learningproblems
     The "special education" legislation in each of the five
States mandates that the State boards or departments of
education, in cooperation with local school divisions, plan
and implement special education programs for all children
identified as having handicapped conditions. Listed among
the handicaps in all States except California are learning
disabilities which correspond to our consultant's definition


                               23
of a hild with a primary learning problem. California's
legi3slation mandates programs only for physically handicapped,
r.entally retarded, and autistic children.

     Th- specific State mandates, the estimated number of
-hildr    ith primary learning problems, and the estimated
number o children served in the five States during school
year 1974-75 are shown in the following table.




                                                  State Commitment to Children
                                         with   Pr ImiaLear      ninjroEIe            i Th974-75

                                                                                                                Estimated number of
                                                                    Estimated number                            school-aged children
                                                                  of school children               Percentage       with primay
                                                School-aged           wiCh primary                     of         learning problems
    State         State mandate                 ee 2ul)at ion      !earnin_ero2blems               eoua!tion      served in 1974-75
 California    No mandate for                    4,500,000                   90,000                   2.0              75,060
               children with
               primary learning
               problems
 Colorado      Treat all children                   550,00                   33:500                   6.1              15,300
               identified--no
               age requirement

 Connecticut   Identify and treat                  640,00                    23,60u                   3.7              18,900
               all cildren 5 to 21
               years old

 Texas         Identity nd treat                2,bb0,OUU               153,C00                       5.4             119,200
               all children 3 to 21
               years ola (note a)
 Virginia      Identify    and   treat          1,100,000                    29,500                   2.7              15,000
               all children 2 to 21
               years old (no'

     Total                                        .640,000               29,600                      3.4             244,000

 a/The State mandate      is to be fully implemented in school year 1976-77.
 biThe State plan is to be fully implemented                  in school >'ear 1976-77.




     The percentage of children estimated to have primary
learning problems varied among the fiv States from a high
of 6 percent of the school population to a low of 2 percent.
The differences in the estimated percentages _ ed by the
States were attributable to (1) State funding limitations on
the number of children that could be classified as having
primary learning problems, (2) using a percentage cited by
the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as being
indicative of the national prevalence rate, or (3) the States'
own assessment of needs.



                                                                24
     HEW has estimated the prevalence of primary learning
problems among the Nation's school-aged population to be
between 1 and 3 percent. However, in March 1975 testimony
before a House Appropriations Subcommittee, the Acting Deputy
Commissioner for Education of the Handicapped said that

       " * * we have been only claiming that 1 percent
       of children were learning disabled while our lat-
       est studies are showing 6 and 7 percent. Now
       we are going to go to about 2 and 3 percent,
       still focusing on the most severely handicapped."

     In support of the 6 percent figure cited by the HEW
official, Colorado in 1972 conducted a statewide study which
showed that about 6 percent of the school population in the
State had learning disabilities (primary learning problems).

     When using the 6-percent rate and comparing it to the
current estimated rates used by the five States, the number
of children that may require a primary learning problem pro-
gram increases considerably, as shown by the following table.



                        ComParison of Numbers of Primary Learning
                          Problem Children Estimated and Serve
                                                Number
                                              of primary
                                               learning
                          Current State        problem      Number
                            estimate of       children   of primary   Percentage of
                       school-age children      based     learning  _children served
              Total       with primary        on approx.  problem   Based on Based on
            school-age  learning problems     6 percent   children   current  6 percent
            rcpulation          Percent of    prevalence served i;i   State     prevalence
  State      1974-75    Tota]   population       rate      1974-75  estimate     rate

California  4,500,000    90,000   2.0             270,000    75,600     84        28
Colorado      550,000    33,500   6.1              33,000    15,300     46        46
Connecticut   640,000    23,600   3.7              38,400    18,900     80        49
Texas       2,850,00J   153,000   5.4             171,000   119,200     78        70
Virginia    1,100,000    29,500   2.7              66,000    15,000     51        23

    Total   9,640,000   329,600   3.4             578,400   244.000     74         42




     These figures show that the States we visited were srv-
ing 74 percent of primary learning problem children, based on



                                             25
their current estimates of such problems.   The average esti-
mated prevalence rate, however, was only 3.4 percent, which
is well below the 6 -percent figure cited by the HEW official
and the Colorado study.   Based on th. 6-percent rate, the five
States were serving only 42 percent of the primary learning
problem children in school year 1974-75.

State commitments to children with
secondary  earning problems

     Although State mandates generally require treating all
children with primary learning problems, no similar require-
ments exist for children with secondary learning problems.

      The major effort for children with secondary learning
problems appears to come from the title I program funded under
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, as
amended. This program generally provide? remedial reading,
language arts, and mathematics classes, which attempt to teach
educationally deprived children school material at a slower
rate.   However, the program is concentrated in low-income
area schools and, therefore, is not available to those
children attending schools outside of these areas.

     Three States--California, Connecticut, and Virginia--
also have remedial programs of their own available to all
school districts.  However, their impact is generally limited
to serving a specific grade or grades and a relatively small
percentage of the total school population.

     In Virginia the State remedial classes were only avail-
able to fifth  rade students in the 1974-75 school year who
scored below t   50th percentile on national achievement
tests as fourth graders.  Entrance into the program was de-
termined by comparing ability and achievement scores and se-
lecting students whose scores showed the greatest disparity.
The State general assembly, however, failed to fund the po-
gram beyond the 1975-76 school year.

      California's Miller-Unruh program provides remedial
reading assistance to children in first through third grades
by hiring reading specialists.  Program eligibility is de-
termined through standardized reading tests.  Children who
score below the 50th percentile and who have demonstrated the
greatest educational need are given priority.  Program funding
levels for school year 1974-75 were set at $15 million.

     Connecticut's Compensatory Education program focuses most
of its resources in kindergarten through grade six by provid-
ing remedial reading and math instruction to children whose



                             26
educational achievement is restricted because of economic,
linguistic, or environmental isolation.

     In school year 1974-75, title I and the State remedial
programs served the following numbers of children:


                    Children in Remedial Classes
                              1974-75
                ESEA title I                State programs
  State       number of children    Number of children       Cost
California          489,300             a/124,700        $15,350,000
Colorado             35,400                  -                -
Connecticut          41,523                35,354          6,500,000
Texas               437,300                  -                -
Virginia            107,000              b/17,200          5,.t63,000
    Total         1,110,523               177,254        $27,013,000
a/Liiited to first through third grades.

b/Limited to fifth graders in 1974-75 and fifth and sixth
  gradeLs in 1975-76. Virginia's program terminates after
  the 1975-76 school year.

SCHOOL DISTRICTS' COMMITMENTS VARIED IN
SERVING LEARNING PROBLEM CHILDREN

     Although the school districts are entrusted with imple-
menting the State programs for children with learning prob-
lems, their commitment to serve these children varied from
meeting the State requirements to no programs at all.  Where
they existed, special education programs designed to serve
children with primary learning problems were generally
structured in accordance with he State's special education
guidelines. Because there are no State mandates to iden-
tify and serve children with secondary learning problems,
the districts generally had no uniform plans for addressing
these needs.


Programs for children with
 rimary learning problems

     State education laws place the responsibility for im-
plementing special education programs on the school district.
Generally the school districts establish and oversee the
programs for proper testing, diagnosis, and placement.


                               27
     We visited 23 districts to determine the number of
children with primary learning problems being erved. They
represented a range of income, urban, suburban, and rural
factors in each State and were generally regarded by State
officials as representative of the States' school districts.
The number of children served in proportion to the student
population during school year 1974-75 were:
            Schedule of Children Served in 1974-75
          School Year With Primary Lear.ing Problems
                                        Number of   Percentage
                                        children       of
               Number of    District     in the      student
               districts    student     district    population
  State         visited    population    served       served

California         3        169,400       3,400        2,0
Colorado           3         96,30N       2,100        2.2
Connecticut        9         55,700       2,200        3.9
Texas              3         49,000       4,100        8.4
Virginia           5        207,300      _3700         1.8

    Total         23        577 700      15,500        2.7

Although these statistics show a variance in the percentage
of children served among the States, the disparities between
the school districts within the States were more significant.
The extent of primary learning problem services appearel to be
directly related to the amount of resources allocated by the
districts for these programs, with the affluent districts able
to provide more funds, diagnosticians, and special education
teachers.

     -- The more affluent school district selected in Virginia
        served about 2.0 percent of the population as compared
        to a low-income, rural, and sparsely populated district
        that had no services at all because it found the pro-
        grams too expensi:,e.

      --In Colorado the most affluent of the three districts
        selected served about 6 percent of the school-aged
        population, while the larger, less affluent, urban
        district served only about 1.5 percent.

      -- In Texas the upper income suburban area served about
         9.5 percent of its school-aged population in its
         primary learning problem programs, while the urban
         district with a majority of low-income families
         served only about 5 percent.

                               28
      -- State officials in Connecticuit said that the more
         affluent districts in their State are able to do a
         better job in implementing the special educatien
         laws, while poorer localities are unable to rspond
         as effectively.
 Programs for children with
 se-ondary learning problems

     The title   EEA low-income pLcgram ppeared to be the
principal remedial service offered in the districts, although
some districts had State and/or district remedial reading
and mathematics specialists to serve academically deficient
students. These specialists, however, usually taught only
in the elementary grades and wre generally not sufficient
in number to serve all school- within the district. Other
alternative educational programs were also offered in some
districts to assist children who were not advancing in the
regular classroom setting. These programs generally empha-
sized vocational training and operated in the secondary
schools.

LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS LACK RESOURCES
TO IDENTIFY AND SERVE ALL CHILDREN
WITH LEARNING PROBLEMS
     At the local public school level, the full impact of the
problem becomes apparent. There were children in the class-
rooms with academic problems whc were

     -- waiting to be referred for testing;

     -- waiting to be tested; or

     -- having been tested and found to have a learning prob-
        lem, were having to wait to be placed in a program be-
        cause of the limited resources available.
Teacher estimates of need

     To gain perspective on the number of children with
learning problems who may need special education or remedial
services, we visited 80 schools and interviewed 373 teachers
about their 1974-75 classes' performance. Although teachers
were able to cite how many children in their classes had
academic difficulties, they were unable to identify whether
the children had pr.-mary or secondary learning problems.
(Problem identification generally requires an extensive multi-
disciplinary diagnostic evaluation.) However, as teachers
were generally cited as a first s p in the identification


                               29
and referral process for both special education and remedial
classes, we considered their estimates of the number of children
requiring evaluation to determine the need for such services
to be generally reliable. Their estimates were as follows:


                          Results of Interviews With Teachers
                          Concenr    Ueaninn  Pr ob6em-i-ildaen

                                                       No. of
                                   NC. of     No. of  children
                                  children   children found      No. of       No. of
                          No. of    with     referred to have a children     children
                 No. of  children academic     for    learning  placed in    awaiting
                teachers  tught   problems   testing   problem  a rooram    pEacement

  California       75      4,799      727      556       346       176         170
  Colorado         70      5,501    1,109      582       467       306         161
  Connecticut      64      2,376      6.5      514       412       266         146
  Texas            52      1,88-'     37U      286       286       256          30
  Virginia        112      7,383    1,814    1,028       936       516         420

      iotal       373     21,948    4,675    2,966      2,447     1,520        977




     An analysis of the above schedule shows that

      -- 21 percent of the children were estimated to have
         academic problems,

      -- only 63 percent of the children with academic problems
         were being referred for testing and evaluation,

      -- 82.5 percent of the children who were referred and
         tested were found to have an academic problem signi-
         ficant enough to warrant a special program, and

      -- only 62 percent of the children identified as need-
         ing a special program were placed.

     In a hypothetical class of 100                  hildren, the teachers'
figures idicated that

      --21 of 100 children have academic problems,

      -- only 13 of the 21 would be referred for testing,

      -- 13 of the 13 would be identified as needing a special
         or remedial class, and

      --only 7 of the 11 would be placed in such a class.

                                        30
 Teachers' reasons for not referring children
 for testing and evaluation
      The reasons most frequently cited by teachers for not
 referring children suspected of having learning problems
 for testing and evaluation were:

Number of teachers                   Reasons
        38                No program was available.
        31                The students' problems were not
                            severe enough to either qualify
                            or be placed.
        26                Existing programs were full.
        1$                The students' problems could be
                            handled in class.
        12                The students' problems we-9 recog-
                            nized too late in the   ar to
                            refer for evaluation.
        12                Not enough diagnosticians available;
                            the testing was backlogged.
     The following example illustrates the reasons cited above
and highlights the shortfall of services available.

     Nine teachers in one elementary school who taught in the
kindergarten through sixth grades estimated that 100 of the
286 children they taught (35 percent) had academic problems.
Of the 67 children they referred for testing, 54 had learning
problems. Only 11 of these children were placed in special
education or remedial programs.

     The reasons cited by the teachers for not referring the
33 children for testing were:

Number of children                    Reason
         5             No remedial class available.
         5             Not considered severe enough to refer.
         2             Tested previously--not placed.
        13             Testing time not available and pro-
                         grams were full.
         6             No reason given.
         2             Left district.
Total   33

     The teachers stated that the 43 children tested and
found to have learning problems were denied programs primarily
because there was either a lack of space in existing programs
or no classes were available.


                             31
     As previously noted, the classroom teachers we inter-
viewed indicated that 21 percent of their students had aca-
demic trouble. Generally, though, the teachers could not
determine whether the children had a primary or secondary
learning problem. Moreover, they only referred 63 percent of
the children. Thus, the teachers had to make some subjective
judgments as to which children to refer.  In many cases, un-
doubtedly, those children most in need were probably referred.
In other cases, however, it may have been those children who
somehow commanded attention.




                            32
                            CHAPTER 5
            LIMITED FEDERAL INVOLVEMENT IN IDENTIFYING

          AND TREATING CHILDREN WITH LEARNING PROBLEMS
     The Federal Government's involvement in identifying and
treating learning problems has come primarily from the Office
of Education, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare,
through its programs funded under various provisions of the
Education of the Handicapped Act, as amended (20 U.S.C. 1401),
and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as
amended (20 U.S.C. 241a).

     The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, through
State criminal justice planning agencies, has funded projects
which, as part of their operations, identified and/or treated
learning disabilities (primary learning problems). However,
LEAA had no overall policy or emphasis regarding identifying
and treating learning problems.
HEW POLICIES AND PROGRAMS

     Although several Federal education assistance programs
may benefit children with learning problems, funds provided
to the States under the Education of the Handicapped Act, as
amended, and title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education
Act of 1965, as amended, were the primary ederal resources
used by the public schools to meet the educational needs of
these children.
Education of the Handicapped Act

     According to HEW, the Government's comritment for edu-
cating the handicapped is not intended to provide complete
per child costs, but to bring about changes in educational
patterns by initiating demonstration and model programs and
by encouraging innovative techniques and practices.

     Under part B of the Education of the Handicapped Act,
as amended, (20 U.S.C. 1411) grants are provided to the
States to assist in initiating, expanding, and improving
programs and projects for the handicapped at the preschool,
elementary, and secondary levels.

     To receive grants under part B, each State education
agency must submit a plan (1) outlining its policies and
procedures for educating handicapped children and (2) de-
scribing the activities which the State proposes to carry out
with the Federal grant funds.


                             33
     In fiscal year 1975 approximately $100 million was pro-
vided to the States under this part of the act. HEW esti-
mates that about $10.6 million was used for programs for
children with primary learning problems.

     Under part G of the act (20 U.S.C. 1431), g ints and
contracts are awarded on the basis of national competition
to institutions of higher education, State and local edu-
cation agencies, and other public and private educational
and research agencies or organizations to carry out programs
dealing with specific learning disabilities (primary learning
problems). The program seeks to stimulate State and local
provision of comprehensive identification, diagnostic,
prescriptive, and education services for all children with
primary learning problems through the funding of model pro-
grams and supportive technical assistance, research, and
training activities.

     In fiscal year 1975 about $3.25 million was awarded for
operating 29 model centers for children with primary learn-
ing problems.

Education for All Handicapped
Children Act of 1975

     On November 29, 1975, the Education for All Handicapped
Children Act of 1975 (89 Stat. 773) amended part B of the
Education of the Handicapped Act. The act:
     -- Provides for an individualized education program
        tailored to the unique needs of a handicapped child.

     -- Sets priorities for providing services to handicapped
        children.

     -- Provides that children will not have to be denied serv-
        ices because of inability to pay.

     -- Strengthens procedural safeguards relating to identi-
        fying, evaluating, and placing handicapped children.
The Government will pay an increasing percentage f the cost
of educating handicapped children over a 5-year period, start-
ing with 5 percent in fiscal year 1978 and increasing to
40 percent in fiscal year 1982.

     For funding purposes, however, no more than 12 percent
of the children aged 5 to 17 may be classified as handicapped,
and no more than 2 percent may be classified as learning dis-
abled.

                                34
     The act also requires that the Commissioner of Education
prescribe regulations which (1) establish specific criteria
for determining whether a learning disorder or condition may
be considered a specific learning disability and (2) describe
diagnostic procedures to be used in determining whether a
child should be designated as learning disabled.   If, as a
result of publishing the regulations, the Commissionar  deter-
mines that changes are necessary in the definition  of the
term "children with specific learning disabilities," he shall
submit recommendations to the Congress for changes in the
legislation.
     With the passing of this act, the responsibilities of
the Government were expanded, as the law mandates that the
States develop plans and procedures to provide a free appro-
priate education to all handicapped children ages 3 to 18
by September 1, 1978. The Government is to assist the States
in developing and implementing these plans and determine
whether the States are complying with them.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
     Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
of 1965, as amended, provides Federal financial assistance
for programs designed to meet the special educational needs
of educationally deprived children 1/ living in areas with
high concentrations of children from low-income families.
The funds are provided to State educational agencies which
make grants to local educational agencies.   (Funds are also
provided to State agencies under title I for educational
programs for neglected or delinquent children, children of
migrant families, and handicapped children.)

     Of the $1.9 billion appropriated for the title I   pro-
gram in fiscal year 1975, about $1.6 b lion was used    to
support a variety of programs planned and operated by   local
school districts. These programs emphasized reading,    lan-
guage arts, and mathematics.



1/Title I regulations define educationally deprived children
  as children who need special educational assistance to per-
  form at grade levels appropriate for their age. The term
  includes children with special educational needs due to
  poverty, neglect, delinquency, and handicaps or to cultural,
  economic, and linguistic isolation from the general commun-
  ity.

                              35
     To participate in the program, States are required to
submit applications to the Office of Education for review and
approval. The State education agency is required to insure
that it will administer the program in accordance with the
act and program regulations. The State education age.ncies'
major responsibilities are to

     -- approve or disapprove applications submitted by local
        education agencies after determining whether the pro-
        posed projects comply with the intent of title I,

     -- make certain that title I funds are used only for ap-
        proved projects, and

     --adopt fiscal control and accounting procedures to
       insure that Federal funds are properly disbursed and
       accounted for

     The local education agencies are responsible for (1)
determining school areas eligible for participation, (2)
identifying the educationally deprived children in these
areas, (3) determining their special needs, (4) developing
projects responsive to the priority needs of these children,
(5) adopting procedures for evaluating the effectiveness
of major project activities, and (6) carrying out the pro-
jects in accordance with their approved application and pro-
gram regulations.
LEAA POLICIES AND PROGRAMS

     Currently, LEAA has no overall policy on identifying
and treating learning disabilities or other types of learn-
ing problems as a means of reducing or preventing juvenile
delinquency.

     LEAA, pursuant to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5601), is responsible for
implementing overall Federal policy and developing objectives
and priorities for all Federal juvenile delinquency programs
and activities relating to prevention, diversion, training,
treatment, rehabilitation, evaluation, research, and improve-
ment of the juvenile justice system.

     To assist it in determining the relationship of learn-
ing disabilities to juvenile delinquency and in developing
its programatic directions, LEAA's Office of Juvenile Jus-
tice and Delinquency Prevention awarded a grant to the Amer-
ican Institutes for Research in December 1975 to (1) condu't



                             36
a search of all literature dealing with the relationship of
all learning disabilities to juvenile delinquency, (2) de-
velop an inventory of demonstration projects, and (3) deter-
mine current theory and practice through discussions with
learning disabilities experts.

     In its April 1976 report to LEAA, the American Institutes
for Research concluded that the existing literature did not
firmly establish or disprove a relationship between learning
disabilities and juvenile delinquency. The study cited var-
ious problems with the existing literature, including:
     -- The absence of adequate studies comparing the inci-
        dence of learning disabilities between delinquent
        and nondelinquent populations.
     -- The absence of studies comparing the development
        of a set of learning-disabled children and a com-
        parable set of non-learning-disabled children.

     -- Definitional, diagnostic, procedural, analytic, and
        presentational problems which preclude deriving an
        estimate of the incidence of learning disabilities
        from the existing studies.

     Nonetheless, it concluded that even though most of the
quantitative studies can be criticized for not grappling
with learning disabilities as such, they persistently suggest
a pattern of learning handicaps and that something is present
which deserves systematic investigation.

     The report also identified 52 projects and programs
funded by LEAA from fiscal year 1972 through fiscal year 1975
which either diagnosed or treated learning disabilities as
part of their operation, but noted that the projects added
very little to LEAA's understanding of learning disabilities
and juvenile delinqency.
     The American Institutes for Research made the following
recommendations to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delin-
quency Prevention.

     -- The Office should take no action on grant applications
        related to learning disabilities until a program
        strategy has been prepared and announced.
      -- The Office's interest in learning disabilities should
         fall in the research and evaluation sector, not in
         program applications.

                              37
      With respect to the second recommendation, the study
 states:

     "Learning disabilities and related learning handicaps
     are phenomena of potential importance to the Office, and
     erery effort should be made to insure that money is di-
     rected toward learning about them. This does not ex-
     clude demonstration projects; on the contrary, evalua-
     tion of a few carefully designed demonstrations could
     help answer some basic questions. But the appropriate
     time for broad applications is still in the future."

     The report points out that doing research and operating
demonstration projects depends heavily on the Office's policy
priorities and resources and suggests four options. Two of
them could be funded independently by the Office and the
other two are appropriate for interagency collaboration. The
first was a relatively small effrrt. to determine the inci-
dence of learning handicaps, including earning disabilities
strictly defined, among a few basic populations, such as the
chronic juvenile offender, the first offender, and the non-
delinquent.

     The second effort was a demonstration project to test
the value of diagnosing and treating learning disabilities
as an aid to rehabilitating serious juvenile offenders.

     The first of the suggested collaborative efforts is
a national inventory of learning handicaps among youth, which
would permit profiles of critical populations and age group-
ings. This would include information on a wide variety of
vulne able youth populations that is necessary for the Of-
fice's responsibilities for prevention programs and could
complement education's needs.

      The second effort would be a demonstration project to
identify and treat learning disabilities in an inner-city
elementary or preschool, with thorough followup research.
Such a study might show that learning disabilities could
have much more potent effects when it occurs in an inner-
city environment with parents who may have never heard of
learning disabilities than when it occurs in a suburb with
parents who are aware of learning disabilities. Findings
about what happens when learning disabilities are found and
treated early in the high-risk inner-city environment could
have high utility for shaping delinquency prevention strate-
gies.

     The Office is pann4rg an initiative for fiscal year
1977 to focus on remediating learning disabilities. It plans


                             38
to incorporate two of the above recommendations into its pro-
gram:  (1) that specific populations be tested for the inci-
dence of learning disabilities and (2) that a few carefully
designed demonstration programs aimed at preventing or re-
ducing delinquency through remediating learning disabilities
be established and evaluated.

     The program initiative is to consist of the following
steps:

     1. Testing three populations (nondelinquents, proba-
        tioners, and institutionalized juveniles) in rep-
        resentative parts of the country for the incidence
        of learning disabilities.
     2. Establishing demonstration programs in geographical
        areas and for target populations where the incidence
        of learning disabilities appears to be significant.
     3. Researching the effectiveness of the treatment pro-
        grams for remediating learning disabilities and
        preventing or reducing delinquency.




                             39
                            CHAPTER 6

               CONCLUSIONS, RECOMMENDATIONS, AND
                       AGENCY COMMENTS

CONCLUSIONS
     Our test results in Connecticut and Virginia, as well as
other studies, have shown that learning problems are extensive
among institutionalized juvenile delinquents.
Primary learning problems

     Twentv-six percent of the delinquents tested in
Connecticut and Virginia had primary learning problems.
Whether such problems directly cause children to turn to
delinquency is not evident. However, the education system
needs no mandate in trms of preventing or reducing juvenile
delinquency to address primary learning problems.
     In the five States we reviewed, most children with pri-
mary learning problems a- entitled to an adequate education
under the States' educa'    laws. We believe the legislative
framework--Federal and Sta,.--and organizational framework
exists for the schools to improve the identification and
treatment of primary learning problems. But the States and
the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare have not
developed adequate procedures to identify all children with
such problems. Our work indicates that the States and HEW
may have underestimated the number of children with primary
learning problems. As a first step toward providing adequate
education to such children, HEW and the States need to identify
those children in need of help. Then, adequate referral and
testing processes and special education programs need to be
established.
     What can the juvenile institutions do? Given the con-
straints on the institutions in terms of the severity of
the juveniles' problems, the emphasis on changing the juve-
niles' antisocial behavior, and the short period of their
confinement, the positive impact that institutions can have
on correcting the juveniles' learning problems may be lim-
ited. This situation, however, does not mean that the in-
stitutions and juvenile correction systems could not better
manage their resources. For example, what good does it do
to extensively test juveniles at a diagnostic center if the
information either is not sent to the institution or, once
sent, is not used? Appropriate State officials should con-
sider how to develop more effective institutional programs
that capitalize on such test results.

                               4U
     To what extent, if any, and in which ways do primary
learning problems generate, precipitate, and/or contribute to
delinquent behavior? Completed studies so far have not
answered such questions. The extent of primary learning
problems among institutionalized delinquents, at a minimum,
suggests that we need to know more about this relationship
and how to effectively deal with it.
     Until a determination is made concerning the nature,
extent, and direction of the relationship (if any) between
primary learning problems and juvenile delinquency, we do
not believe extensive Federal resources should be committed
to address the problen of juvenile delinquency through the
early identification and treatment of primary learning prob-
lems. However, if a positive relationship were to be estab-
lished and the nature and extent of such a relationship were
known, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration and HEW
could consider placing more emphasis on ameliorating primary
learning problems as one additional means of addressing the
problem of juvenile delinquency. Under the Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, LEAA may assist in
developing budget requests of Federal agencies that are,
or co:ld be, related to juvenile delinquency prevention or
control and recommend to the White House changes to more
effectively address the juvenile delinquency problem.

     If and when the nature, exten, and direction of the
relationship is established, LEAA may want to review with
HEW the commitment HEW is making in the special education
area to determine whether and how additional or currently
allocated resources could be more effectively applied to
deal with such problems. Knowledge gained concerning this
relationship could also provide the impetus for the consider-
ation of innovative and/or alternative approaches to the
prevention of juvenile delinquency and the rehabilitation
of juvenile delinquents. Changes also could take place in
correctional institutions to an extent but, more importantly,
the issue could be appropriately addressed by other compo-
nents of the juvenile justice system as well. For example,
more emphasis could be placed on using the results of test-
ing to determine disposition of juveniles when they come in
contact with the juvenile justice system at intake and in
treating juveniles through communily-based facilities and
services.

Secondary learning problems

     Fifty-one percent of the delinquents tested in Connect-
icut and Virginia had secondary learning problems. The extent
of secondary learning problems in the Nation's public schools

                              41
is unknown, and, in cases where they are detected, what to
do about them is unclear.

      Part of this uncertainty stems from the apparent causes
of secondary learning problems--b&d familial or other social
situations, or other types of emotional or behavioral prob-
lems.   Treating these causes may well be beyond the capabil-
ity or even the purpose of school systems or correctional
institutions, and there is a question as to how much can be
accomplished witn such children if such causes persist.

RECOMMENDATIONS

    We recommend that:

    -- The Secretary of HEW direct the Assistant Secretary
       for Education to develop, in conjunction with the
       States, valid and comparable prevalence rates of
       children with primary learning problems to determine
       the amount of resources needed to combat such prob-
       lems and, on the basis of those rates, develop pro-
       cedures to better assure that children who have or
       are likely to experience such problems are adequately
       diagnosed and treated.  This effort would be consistent
       with the intent of the Education for All Handicapped
       Children Act of 1975.

    -- The Attorney General direct the Administrator of LEAA
       to work closely with the State criminal justice planning
       agencies to develop requirements in State plans dealing
       with juvenile delinquency that address the need to fund
       programs within juvenile correctional institutions to
       better assure that positive use is made of diagnostic
       information developed pertinent to the juveniles'
       educational needs and problems.

    --The Assistant Secretary of Education, at the direction
      of the Secretary of HEW, and the Administrator of LEAA,
      at the direction of the Attorney General, undertake
      a jointly funded study to determine the nature, extent,
      and direction of the relationship (if any) between pri-
      mary learning problems and delinquent behavio.

      If the results of such a study demonstrate such a
      relationship, we recommend that both agencies work
      toward the development of a Federal strategy to address
      the problem of juvenile delinquency through the early
      identification and appropriate treatment of primary
      learning problems.  Development of such a strategy
      would be consistent with LEAA's responsibilities


                            42
       pursuant to provisions of the Juvenile Jstice and
       Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974.

AGENCY COMMENTS

Department of Justice

     The Department of Justice, by letter dated November 11,
1976, (see app. II) agreed with our conclusions that learn-
ing problems are extensive among institutionalized juvenile
delinquents, expressed some concern about the language of
the recommendations, and outlined certain actions LEAA was
taking.

     The Department stated that:

     --Any conclusions about the relationships of learning
       disabilities to delinquency based on sampled youth in
       correctional institutions should be stated with care
       as institutionalized delinquents represent only the
       2 to 5 percent who are actually incarcerated out of
       the relatively small percentage of delinquents who
       are caught. Also, because of the rather artificial
       milieu into which such children are placed, any
       empirical or subjective tests are not likely to yield
       a reliable or accurate picture of a child's conduct,
       personal qualities and characteristics, or ability.

     -- The learning disability incidence levels reported in
        the GAO study are not particularly high when compared
        with other studies of noninstitutionalized populations.

     The Department expressed concern with the wording of
our proposed recommendation calling for a jointly funded
study to "determine the nure, extent, and direction of the
relationship (if any) between primary learning problems and
delinquent behavior and the conditions under which such a
relationship can occur, i.e., how primary learning problems
generate, precipitate, or contribute to delinquent behavior."
It noted that the latter part of the recommendation implied
a causal relationship before any incidence studies of delin-
quent and nondelinquent samples from the same population us-
ing the same definition had been done.

     The Department stated that before causal studies are
undertaken, studies should first be made comparing delinquent
and nondelinquent samples drawn from the same populations.
It noted that LEAA was already undertaking studies of the
incidence of learning disabilities among delinquents ad
nondelinquents and the delinquency reduction potential of a


                             43
remediation program, and that the results of these studies
would provide guidance for subsequent efforts in the area.
     With respect to our recommendation that the LEAA Admin-
istrator work closely with the State criminal justice plan-
ning agencies, the Department stated that it planned to en-
courage and provide guidance to the States in developing
programs dealing with primary learning problems. It noted,
however, that although LEAA can provide guidance, the States
themselves must make the detailed studies of their needs.
    Our evaluation

      We agree that any conclusions about the relationship of
leFarning disabilities to delinquency based on sampled youth
in correctional institutions should be stated with care. It
is precisely for this reason that we recommended further
study before extensive Federal resources are committed to
address the problem of juvenile delinquency through the
early identification and treatment of primary learning prob-
lems. We believe that the difference in prevalence levels of
26 percent among institutionalized delinquents compared to
estimates of 1 to 6 percent among the general population is
significant enough to warrant further investigation.
     We believe the studies being undertaken by LEAA, if
properly implemented and controlled, are apprcprLate. How-
ever, we suggest that LEAA consider the comments of HEW re-
garding such studies.
     Our recommendation has been revised to remove any im-
plication of a causal relationship.
     Regarding the artificial milieu of the institutional
setting, our consultants believe that, als1-ugh confinement
in an institution can indeed affect intellectual functioning,
academic achievement, and emotional expression and develop-
ment, such an environment would not cover up the factors
typical of the learning disabled nor cause such factors to
develop.

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare

     HEW, by letter dated October 21, 1976, concurred in our
recommendation to develop prevalence rates of children with
primary learning problems (learning disabilities) and out-
lined certain steps it was taking in this regard.   (See
app. III.)  It also agreed with the intent of our recommen-
dation for a study to determine the nature, extent, and
direction of the relationship (if any) between primary learn-
ing problems and delinquent behavior. HEW noted that:

                             44
     -- Any jointly funded research effort should be considered
        only after the operational definition of learning dis-
        abilities has been published in final form, following
        full professional and public review.

     -- Safeguards must be built into any study so that re-
        searchers d not fall into the predictable temptation
        of looking for a "cause" for juvenile delinquency
        rather than recognizing the multiplicity of factors
        affecting diverse individuals.

     HEW also made several technical comments.   These are
discussed in appendix IV.

     In each of the five States, copies of the draft re-
port were provided to appropriate State education and correc-
tional agencies and to the State criminal justice planning
agency. Their comments were considered in the report, and
changes to the report have been made where appropriate.
Generally, the States agreed with our observations.




                             45
APPENDIX     I                                                         APPENDIX I




                    THE KINGSBURY CENTER
2138 Banoroft Place. N.W.         Washington. D. C.      20008   .     (202) 232-5878

                  TESTING JUVENILE DELINQUENTS FOR LEARNING PROBLEMS

                                VIRGINIA & CONNECTICUT

                                         1975



        I.   Introduction:    Purpose and Procedures of Study

        There is no question that many factors--social, cultural, famil-
        ial...--affect the lives of adolescents who become delinquent.
        Determining to what extent any given factor may be considered
        causative is rarely possi.,      as these factors interact in a
       complex manner. Amelioration of these various conditions is
       also difficult. However, one area in which some improvement
       can be expected, because its resources are to some degree
       within governmental control, is that of education. Maximizing
       educational resources would ensure that at least i this one
       .phere a youngster's needs would be met in as satisfactory a
       manner as possible.

       In order to gather information regarding the incidence of
       learning problems, the United States General Accounting Office
       in 1974 con.issioned a study of subjects chosen by random
       sample from detention centers in Virginia and Connecticut.
       The Kingsbury Center, Inc., a nonprofit remedial education
       institution in the District of Columbia, was contracted to do
       the evaluations. Sixty-nine students were tested in the seven
       detention centers in Virginia, and sixty students were tested
       in the four detention centers in Connecticut. The purposes of
       this study were:

             1.     to differentiate those youngsters who have
                    significant learning problems from those
                    who have none;

             2.     to determine which of the former have specific
                    learning disabilities;

             3.     to call attention to the differing educational
                    needs of students with rarious kinds of learn-
                    ing problems.

       For this study we assumed that adolescents who are performing
       within two years of their proper chronological grade placement




                                          46
APPENDIX   I                                                     APPENDIX I



   in all of the basic academic skills are sufficiently well equipped
   to do the work that is requived of them in school and therefore
   do not experience the frustration and failure that can aggravate
   other existing problems. Although they may experience a variety
   of difficulties in ther areas, they are not considered for the
   purposes of this study to have learning problems. Youngsters
   who are performing two years or more below grade level in relation
   to their chronological age group are considered to have a learning
   problem. They are divided into categories that have common
   characteristics that may require different approaches to remedia-
   tion.  These categories are discussed in Section II.

   The identification of adolescents who demonstrate signs of
   learning disability, as defined below, will be a major focus
   of this evaluation because in the past their specialized
   characteristics have not always been differentiated from other
   problems of underachievement. All of the categories we have
   delineated as having learning problems, however, are populated
   by youngsters who are in need of special educational assistance
   in order to continue their acquisition of academic skills.


    Ii. Categories of Students

    The categories are represented graphically in this manner:

                      CLASSIFICATION OF STUDENT


 NO PROBLEM                             LEARNING PROBLEt/




           Satisfactory          Mild      Moderate   I Severe       Limited
           Slow Learner                                              Academic
                                         UNDERACHIEVER               Potential



                                 Primary
                                 Learning         Secondary
                                 Problem,         Learning
                                 i.e.,            Problem
                                 Learning
                                 Disability




                                            47
AF?ENDIX I                                                     APPIENDIX I



        A.   No Problem

             Students in this category had average or above intelli-
             gence (Full Scale I.Q. of 90+ on the WISC or WAIS), had
             no deficits in basic intellectual functioning that
             significantly impeded their acquisition of academic
             skills, and were achieving within two years of grade
             level.

        B.   Learning Problems

             Adolescents who are unable to perform in a satisfactory
             manner at or near their regular chronological grade
             placement are in trouble and need some support in order
             to function adequately within the school setting. Those
             who functioned two years or more below chronological
             grade level were divided for the purposes of our study
             into three main categories.

             1.   Satisfactory Slow Learners

                  Adolescents with low average or slightly below
                  average intellectual ability (Full Scale I.Q. of
                  75-89 on the WISC or WAIS) who are achieving two
                  or more years below chronological grade level but
                  within two years of the grade level expected for
                  their ability were considered to be functioning
                  satisfactorily as slow learners. If the educa-
                  tional system expects them to progress in accordance
                  with their chronological age placement, however,
                  they may be in need of special services, such as
                  special reading and arithmetic classes.

             2.   Underachievers

                  Adolescents of normal intelligence who are achieving
                  two or more years below the level expected for their
                  ability in one or more academic areas were considered
                  to be underachievers. For the purpose of this study,
                  we have included students with a Full Scale I.Q. of
                  75 or higher on the WISC or WAIS. In the detention
                  center population, most of the subjects tested were
                  culturally deprived. Since such students tend to
                  score somewhat lower than middle class students on
                  intelligence tests such as the WISC and WAIS, we
                  elected to consider I.Q.'s of 75 and above as within
                  the "normal range." In some cases students with a
                  Full Scale I.Q. below 75 were included if they had
                  a Verbal or Performance I.Q. of at least 80, suggest-
                  ing low average potential.




                                     48
APPENDIX I                                                         APPENDIX I




             A student's underachievement was considered:
             (1) mild if it as just about two years below
             the level of expectancy; (2) moderate if the
             deficit was greater than two years but above
             the primary (first and second grade) level;
             or (3) severe if the student had been unable
             to achieve basic skills in reading, written
             expression, or arithmetic. The severity of a
             given student's underachievement was determined
             on the basis of his most serious skill deficit.

             Within these levels of underachievement, students
             were categorized as having either (a) a primary
             learning problem, i.e., a learning disability, or
             (b) a secondary learning problem. The achievement
             of any given student always reflects a variety of
             personal and social, as well as educational, factors.
             Most of the adolescents in this study who showed
             signs of having learning disabilities also had
             experienced the kinds of life situations that create
             secondary learning problems. For the purposes of
             this study, a student showing signs of learning
             disability was characterized as having a primary
             learning problem, even though secondary factors
             might have been present.

             Because of the preseice of these secondary factors,
             underachievement was usually not simply a function
             of the severity of the learning disability. We
             therefore measured the underachievement in terms
             of grade level and indicated whether or not learning
             disability was present but did not specify the degree
             of correlation between learning disabilities and
             underachievement.

             a.   Primary Learning Problem - Learning Disability

                  The term "learning disability" refers not to
                  any of an undifferentiated number of learning
                  problems nor to generalized retardation of
                  intellectual development, but rather to a
                  demonstrated inability to perform a specific
                  task normally found within the capability
                  range of individuals of comparable mental
                  capacity. It involves deficits in essential
                  learning processes having to do with perception,
                  integration, and verbal and non-verbal expres-
                  sion. Adolescents with learning disabilities
                  generally demonstrate underachievement in one
                  or more academic areas: oral language expression,




                                      49
                                                                    APPENDIX I
APPENDIX I




                  reading, spelling and written expression, or
                  arithmetic. The method of identification
                  will be discussed in Section III.

                  Students with a primary learning problem, or
                  learning disability, because of their specific
                  deficits, may need special techniques of
                  instruction. Often they must be taught how
                  to profit from their strengths and circumvent
                  their weaknesses. Sometimes they can be
                  enabled to improve functioning in the deficient
                  skill. They can benefit from being grouped
                  according to their special needs so that
                  instruction is most efficient. They frequently
                  require teachers trained in the use of special
                  remedial techniques, and more often than not
                   they need a considerable proportion of one-to-
                  one instruction.

             b.   Secondary Learning Problem

                  Those underachieving students who did not show
                  the definitive signs of a learning disability
                  were considered to have a secondary learning
                  problem. These youngsters may have been
                  relatively unsuccessful in acquiring academic
                  skills because their attendance did not allow
                  for sufficient instruction, or because serious
                   familial or social problems prevented full
                  attention being given to their educational
                  development, or because emotional or behav-
                   ioral difficulties interfered with their
                   ability to profit from instruction.

                   Students with secondary learning problems are
                   significantly behind their peers, and they
                   need remedial instruction designed to accel-
                   erate their progress. Special techniques of
                   instruction may or may not be required.
                   Grouping according to the nature and level
                   of skill deficits may make instruction more
                   efficient. When the underachievement is
                   more severe, individualized instruction may
                   be warranted.

       3.    Limited Academic Potential

             Adolescents whose current intellectual functioning
             was so low (74 or less on WISC or WAIS) that they
             could not be expected to acquire skills above




                                       50
APPENDIX I
                                                                     APPENDIX I



                   elementary school level were placed in this
                                                                 cate-
                   gory. They have serious conceptual deficits,
                                                                    often
                   accompanied by serious perceptual deficits.
                                                                  Some
                  may be evenly lagging in all areas of intellectual
                   development, while others may evidence the
                                                                striking
                  discrepancies in functioning which at a higher
                   intellectual level would suggest learning
                                                              disability.
                  However, the students we placed in this category
                  would be severely limited in their academic
                                                                 progress
                  even with excellent remedial instruction.
                                                               Some
                  may be able to achieve only primary level
                                                              skills
                  at best; others may become functionally literate
                  and conduct their lives outside the academic
                                                                  sphere
                  quite satisfactorily.   These youngsters need highly
                  specialized training designed to help them
                                                               attain
                  optimal development according to their abilities.

  III. Identification of Learning Disability

   Learning disabilities in this study were
                                            evaluated on the basis
  of the child's total testing protocol and
                                             his behavior in relation
  to the examiner, and they were generally
                                            seen in terms of a
  constellation of difficulties. Aptitude,
                                             perceptual, and academic
  tests were all examined for error patterns
                                              significant for learn-
  ing disability. Te deficits in basic functions
  in the student's academic  work in order for him tohadbe to be evident
                                                            classified
  as learning disabled. Discrepancies in
                                           basi, functions of the
  type that indicate learning disabilities
                                            included difficulties in
  the f lowing areas:

       (a) expressive language skills, s might
                                                be seen in WISC
           Verbal scores as much as 15 points below
                                                     Performance
           scores in addition to generalized lack of
                                                      verbal
           fluency.

       (b) receptive language processing, as might
                                                    be seen in
           low receptive vocabulary scores on tests
                                                     like the
           Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test or in poor
                                                       auditory
           memory combined with frequent necessity
                                                    to delay
           responses or re-auditorize questions or
                                                    instructions.
      (c)   auditory perceptual skills necessary for
                                                      work analysis,
            as might be seen in inability to sequence
                                                       sounds or
            master sourd-symbol association for spelling
                                                          and reading
            and usually further evident on tests such
                                                       as the Wepman
            Test of Auditory Discrimination or the
                                                   ITPA Sound
            Blending Test.

      (d) visual-perceptual skills necessary
                                             for effective work
          recognition, such as might be seen in pervasive
                                                          visual




                                       51
APPENDIX I                                                       APPENDIX I



                confusions such as rotation or inversion of stem
                letters, substitution of other similar-appearing
                letter or word forms, or transpositions of letters
                and words in reading and writing and usually further
                evident on the Slingerland or the Malcomesius Tests.

           (e) visual-motor integration, as might be seen in signifi-
               cant distortion on the Bender Gestalt or Graham-Kendall
               Tests, or in WISC or WAIS Performance scores 15 points
               lower than Veibal, as well as in generalized inability
               to reproduce patterns or letter forms.

          (f) abstract reasoning skill not conmmensurate with general
              intellectual level, as might be seen in markedly
              depressed Similarities and/or Block Design scores on
              the WISC or almost total and unexpected reliance on
              concrete trial-and-error processes (note: degree of
              abstraction is expected to increase with increased
              intelligence).

          (g) quantitative reasoning skill necessary for development
              of arithmetic concepts, as might be seen in markedly
              low scores on WISC and other arithmetic problem solving
              tests, especially if these reflect skills low in rela-
              tion to rote computation rather than simple deficits
              in instruction, and sometimes accompanied by indications
              of poor spatial organization ability and inadequate
              grasp of part-whole relationships.

     Diagnoses of learning disabilities for this study were educational
     in nature, made on the basis of examination of the student's
     total protocol. Where available, the students' records were
     studied for additional information. Medical judgments were not
     made. Deficits in visual and auditory acuity and speech impedi-
     ments were not consid red to be learning disabilities. Vision
     ard hearing screening tests were done so that such deficits would
     not confound the test results. Subjects were screened out if
     their vision in either eye was worse than 20/30 on the Snellen
     Chart. On the Maico Audiometer Test, the student had to be able
     to hear the tones at 20 db in the frequency range 500 to 4,000
     in both ears.

     Some bilingual students were included in this study. A few
     students who would have fallen in the random sample were omitted
     because their English was too poor for valid results using English
     tests. These students were replaced by other subjects randomly
     selected.  Bilingual students were included only if they stated
     that they were more fluent in English than Spenish, if they had
     lived in the United States since birth or shortly after, and if
     they had always attended school in the United States.  In case




                                      52
APPENDIX I                                                      APPENDIX   I



     of doubt, the English and Spanish teachers were consulted as to
     the student's language fluency.

     It was assumed that aolescents with significant learning
     disabilities also often have emotional problems.   It ws further
     recognized that severe emotional problems may cause spec:ific
     learning difficulties similar to learning disabilities. In th·
     opinion of the Kingsbury Center, it is not always possible to
     sort out definite causality in such instances, even with the us
     of projective testing. However, every effort was made :o
     differentiate adolescents with true larning disabilities from
     those who did not have learning disabilities but whose emotional
     problems had resulted in general underachievement. The judgment
     of whether a student could be classified as learning disableu
     was ultimately a qualitative one based on the professional
     experience of the Kingsbury Center in evaluating youngsters
     with learning disabilities and other learning problems.   Each
     student's protocol was examined by three diagnosticiars for
     reliability of classification, and the diagnoses wave reviewed
     by a clinical psychologist.


     IV. Tests Administered

     The following tests were administered to all students:

         Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Cildren, Revised or
           Wechsler Adult Jntelligence Scale*
         Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
         Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test
         Human Figure Drawings
         Gray Oral Reading Test, Form A
         Nelson Reading Test, Form B
           Paragraph Comprehension
         Wide Range Achievement Test
           Reading
           Spelling
           Ari thmretic
         'ritten Expression - Story Composition

     The following tests were administered when n.essary for further
     clarification of learniig problems:

         Graham-Kendall Memory-for-Designs Test
         Wechsler Memory Scale
         Ferkauf Auditory Recognition Test
         Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test
         Roswell-Chall Diagnostic Reading Test
         Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities
           Sound Blending Subtest

     *When WISC's or WAIS's hao been administered recently and records
     were available, these tests were not readministered.




                                   53
APPENDIX   I                                                    APPENDIX   I




       Slingerland and Malcomesius Screening Tests for Children with
         Specific Language Disability
           Visual Dscrimination Test
       Informal Arithmetic Problem Solving
       Informal Word Lists for Visual Discrimination




                                     54
        APPENDIX II                                             APPENDIX

                              UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
                                        WASHINGTON, D.C.   30

     Addr   Rp, tothe
      ADia RI        ed                      NOV 11 1976
and Rder to IItals and Numb




               Mr. Victor L. Lowe
               Director
               General Government Division
               United States General Accounting Office
               Washington, D.C. 20548

               Dear Mr. Lowe:
                    This letter is in response to your request for
               comments on the draft report entitled "Learning Disabil-iti.es:
               The Link to Delinquency Should be Researched, But Sclools
               Should Do More Now."
                    We have reviewed the report and are in general
               agreement with the conclusion that learning problems are
               extensive among institutionalized juvenile delinquents.
               However, our majol concern is the caution which must be
               taken in accepting the recommendations. This caution is
               based on what we consider weaknesses in the data from
               which the findings and conclusions are derived. Several
               of our comments focus on this issue.

                   As an initial comment, we would like to point out that
              the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration's (LEAA)
              implementation of its new authority granted under the
              Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act was in the
              early stages of accomplishment at the time the GAO study
              was undertaken. Guidelines had just been issued and funds
              appropriated for juvenile delinquency were at an extremely
              low level. Also, to place the report in proper perspective,
              the report should have acknowledged that the Juvenile
              Justice Act specified several program activities for
              priority attention by LEAA. These programs were, as stated
              in the statute, diversion, deinstitutionalization, and
              separation of juveniles from adult offenders. LEAA began
              focusing its iitiatives on these priority programs almost
              immediately.
                                                55
APPENDIX II                                    APPENDIX II


     In general, we consider the findings to be clearly
stated. The distinction between "primary" and "secondary"
learning problems is excellent. This distinction is a
particularly important one, both conceptually and
empirically, as well as from the viewpoint of initiating
recommendations as they relate to the respective legislative
responsibilities of LEAA and the Department of Health,
Education and Welfare (HEW). Specifically, primary learning
problems--as they relate to delinquency--are of central
concern to LEAA, whereas secondary learning problems have
considerably more relevance to HEW.
     While GAO's data collection and analysis efforts are
impressive and the result of considerable effort, we believe
the conclusions and related recommendations must be accepted
with caution. Any conclusions about the relationships of
learning disability to delinquency based on sampled youth
in correctional institutions should be stated with
considerable care because of the population represented.
Institutionalized delinquents represent only the 2-5 percent
who are actually incarcerated out of the relatively small
percentage of juvenile delinquents who are caught and,
further, out of the 50 percent or fewer who are not screened
or diverted. Add to this restricted sample of juvenile
delinquents the rather artificial milieu into which they
are placed, and any empirical or subjective tests are not
likely to yield a reliable or accurat3 picture of a
child's conduct, personal qualities and characteristics,
or ability. The reasons for individual behavior are
complex and the application of methodologies are important.
     The learning disability incidence levels reported in
GAO's study are not particularly high when compared with
other studies of noninstitutionalized populations. We
therefore urge caution in using this data as a basis for
viewing learning disabilities as a major cause of
delinquency.

      The report also emphasizes the need to develop
adequate procedures for early identification of all
children with primary learning problems and, after adequate
referral and testing processes, placement in special
educatioil programs. We consider this approach a sound one.
However, to suggest that schools and juvenile institvtions
alone can cope with the problem is an over-simplification.
The family, conmmunity, and many other individuals and
local organizations need to be involved. Further, personal

                             56
APPENDIX II                                           APPENDIX II


qualities and characteristics, such as heredity, nutrition,
overall health, etc., contribute to primary learning
problems, and these factors have to be understood,
examined, and acted on in order to attain program impact.
     With respect to the conclusions and recommendations
of the report, GAO raises the question on page 7" as to
whether primary learning problems cause juvenile delin-
quency. The report recommends that if a causal relationship
is established, LEAa and HEW should consider placing more
emphasis on such problems as one additional means of
addressing the issue of juvenile delinquency. A further
recommendation on page 73 suggests that HEW and LEAA
undertake a jointly funded study to determine the nature,
extent, and direction of the relationship (if any) between
learning disabilities and delinquent behavior. If the
results of the study show that there is a relationship,
the recommendation is further made that both LEAA and HEW
work towards the development of a Federal strategy to
address the problem of juvenile delinquency through the
early identification and appropriate treatment of learning
disabilities.

     In reference to the above recommendations, LEAA is
already undertaking a study of the incidence of learning
disabilities among delinquents and nondelinquents and the
delinquency reduction potential of a remediaticn program.
Of concern, however, is the language of the secon' part
of the recommendation or, page 73. The recommenda ion
language that the studv dter       mine "how learning disable. ies
generate, precipitate      r  c-ltribute    to delinquent behavior"
implies  that  a  causal.  =lationship     exists.   Our concern
with any  indication   of  causality     before incidence  studies
are completed    is based  on  what   we  considur weaknesses  in
the data  on  which  GAO  based   its  findings  and  conclusions.
The incidence study conducted by GAO focused on institu-
tionalized delinquents, and did not incorporate a sample
of nondelinquents. Therefore, the recommendation is based
on the limited work done by GAO, plus est-mates of learning
disabilities in the general youth population made by HEW
and one Colorado study.

     In our judgement, studies should first be conducted
that are designed to provide a direct comparis    between
delinquent and nondelinquent sampleu drawn frL   the same
population in terms of the incidence of learning  disability.


                                 57
  APPENDIX II                                     APPENDIX II

 Previous studies utilized varying definitions, different
 methodologies, and dissimilar populations. Such studies
 as we plan to undertake may well show that the incidence
 levels of learning disabilities are similar among
 delinquent and nondelinquent populations. Such a findi ig
 would argue against the utility of causal studies. In
 any event, the results f these incidence studies will
 provide guidance for our subsequent efforts in this area.

      GAO recomnends, on page 73 of the report, that the
 LEAA Administrator "work closely with the SPA's to develop
 requirements in State plan sections dealing with juvenile
 delinquency that address the need to fund programs within
 juvenile correctional institutions to better assure that
positive use is made of diagnostic information developed
pertinent to the juveniles' educational needs and problems."
We agree with the intent of this recommendation and plan
to enccurage and provide guidance to the States in
developing programs dealing with primary learning problems.
While LEAA can provide guidance to the SPA's to assist
them in formulating their State plans, i is important to
recognize that the States themselves must make the detailed
study of their needs as required by Section 223(a)(8) of
the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. If
their studies indicate a need for programmatic attention,
the determination of whether funding will follow is a matter
within the priority-setting function of the SPA's.

     We appreciate the opportunity given us to comment
on the draft report.  Should you have any further questions,
please feel free to contact s.

                            Sincerely,



                              en E. Pommerening
                         Assistant Attorney Genera
                            for Administration -     -




GAO nte:   Page references in this appendix may not cor-
           respond to pagy nuimbers of the final report.



                              58
APPENDIX   III                                                         APPENDIX    III




                   DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH. EDUCATION. AND WELFARE
                               OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY

                                 WASHINGTON, DC.   2201




                                   OCT 21 1976




       Mr. Gregory J. Ahart
       Director, Human Resources
         Division
       United States General
         Accounting Office
       Washington, D.C.    20548

       Dear Mr. Ahart:

       The Secretary asked that I respond to your request for our
       comments on your draft report entitled, "Learning Disabilities:
       The Link to Delinquency Should Be Researched, But Schcols Should
       Do More Now". The enclosed comments represent the tentative
       position of the Department and are subject to reevaluation when
       the final version of this report is received.

       We appreciate the opportunity to coment on this           raft report
       before its publication.

                                              Sinzerely yours,




                                Enclosur
                                 ~Assistant               Secretary, Comptroller

       Enclosure                       5




                                       59
APPENDIX III                                                    APPENDIX III


 Comments of The DePartment of Health, Education, and Welfare on the GAO
 Draft Report to the Congress of the United States entitled "Learning
 Disabilities: The Link to Delinquency Should be Researched, But Schools
 Should Do More Now"
  GAO RECOMMENDATION
  The Secretary of HEW direct the Assistant Secretary for Education to
  develop, in conjunction with the States, valid and comparable prevalence
  rates of children with rimary learning problems, to determine the amount
  of resources needed to combat such problems, and on the basis of those
  rates, to develop procedures to better assure that children who have or
  are likely to experience increased severity of such problems are ade-
   uately diagnosed and treated. This effort would be consistent with the
  intent of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975.
  DEPARTMENT COMMENTS
  We concur, with the understanding that the term "primary learning problemsu
  used in the report is synonymous with the term "specific learning disabil-
  ities" as described in the Education of the Handicapped Act. The term
  "specific learning disabilities" is included in the statute and understood
  by the profession while the term "primary learning problems" has no
  commonly understood meaning beyond this report. The statute requires that
  State education agencies report to the Commissioner no later than April 1
  of each year, the average number of handicapped children residing in the
  State who were receiving special education and related services on October 1
  and February 1 of chat school year. The first such count is due from the
  States by November- 29, 1976. Identification of children to be served was
  initiated through the Education of the Handicapped Act, which provided for
  a child-find system in each State which would locate and identify unserved
  children with specific learning disabilities (primary learning problems).
  In order to identify children with specific learning dirbilities, the
  Office of Education will specify the conditions which may be considered as
  specific learning disabilities and develop procedures that the Office of
  Education and the State education agencies will use to insure that the
  local education agencies are utilizing this definition in their diagnostic
  procedures. Publication of regulations to administer this requirement is
  scheduled for November 29, 1976. The availability of one specific learn-
  ing disabilities definition, to be used by all SEAs ancFFEAs, will greatly
  enhance the ability of the educational community to assess and serve the
  field of learning disabilities.
  The estimate of resources necessary to serve children with specific learn-
  ing disabilities will depend on the number o' children identified after the
  definition and regulations have been implemented and in effect. It should
  be noted that the provision of appropriate special education services by
  States to these children is a requirement of the law independent of the
  level of Federal appropritiois. State and Federal funding, the provisions
  for extensive child identification, due process, confidentiality, and place-
  ment ir the least restrictive environment, plus the provision for a written,
  individual educational plan for each handicapped child, insure adequate
  identification, diagnosis and treatment of children with primary learning
  problems.

                                       60
APPENDIX    III                                                 APPENDIX       III



  GAO RECOMMENDATION
  We recommend that the Assistant Secretary for Education at the direction
  of the Secretary of HEW and the Administrator. LEAA, at the direction of
  the Attorney General, undertake a Jointly funded study to determine the
  nature, extent, and direction of the relationship (ifany) between learn-
  ing disabilities and delinquent behavior, and the conditions under which
  such a relationship can occur, i.e., how learning disabilities generate,
  precipitate, or contribute to delinquent behavior.
  If the results of such a study demonstrate that there is such a relation-
  ship as defined in terms of the above criteria, we recommend that both
  agencies work toward the development of a Federal strategy to address the
  problem of juvenile delinquency through the early identification and
  appropriate treatment of learning disabilities. D(velopment of such
  strategy byLEAA would be consistent with the agency's resonsibilities
  pursuant to provisions of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  Act of 1974.
  DEPARTMENT COMMENTS
 We concur with the intent of this recommendation and agree that there
 is need for additional research into the nature of the relationship between
 learning disabilities and juvenile delinquency. However, any such jointly
 funded effort should be considered only after the operational definition
 of learning disabilities required by the Congress has teen published in
 final form, following full professional and public review. This review
 procedure, dating from the November 29 publication date in the Federal
 Register, will require a minimum of one year to complete. The oiiidieT
 for such join, research would !include matching groups of learning
 disabled delinquents and nondelinquent individuals in an attempt to
 identify the variables that discriminate between these two groups; i.e.,
 the nature, extent and direction of the relationship, and the conditions
 under which such a relationship (ifany) can occur.
 Also, we believe that safeguar's must be built into any study so that
 researchers do not fall into the predictable temptation of looking for
 a "cause" for juvenile delinquency rather than recognizing the multi-
 plicity of factors affecting incredibly diverse individuals. This
 same temptation of looking for a sirgle cause has limited progress in
 reading and learning disability instruction.




                        fSee GAO note 1, p. 63 .1




                                       61
APPENDIX III
                                                               APPENDIX III

                                    [See GAO note 2, p. 63 .1




       TEC'ICAL CENTS        [See GAO note 2, p. 63 .]
        S^eral prcceoures employed in the collection
                                                        of data for this study seem
       to epart from pro er experimental design strategies.
         1. While results are puroorted to provide a "reliable
               .he isti:utlona!ized children o the States when the picture for
                                                                      tests were
               -ade," no derographic data on the experimental population
              proviced, The eneralizability of these results seems        was
                                                                       to
             questionable without further description of the experimental be
             groups (p.5, GAO Draft Report). For example, their
                                                                     length of
             institutionalization is a factor which must be considered.
         2. T e raw data were not included in the report or furnished
             review and approval. As has been discussed with GAO on for our
             occasions, this is necessary so that the results can be prior
                                                                        evaluated
             objectively.




                                      62
APPENDIX III                                                     APPENDIX III

     3. Academic discrepancy was calculated relative to grade placement
        for the chronological age rather than to information regarding
        IQ. Intelligence quotient is critical to the determination of
        discrepancies in academic performance.
     4. The term "secondary learning problems" was used extensively
        without operationally defining it.
    5. Causation was inferred from correlational data (p.12, GAO Draft
       Report).
    6. The use of 6 as the incidence for learning disabilities in this
       report was based on 6 figure purportedly cited by HEW (p.34,
       GAO Draft Report). However, the figure that HEW actually uses
         is 2.
    7. GAO reports that teachers were used to "reliably" estimate the
       number of children in need of special services even though they
       stated that "learning problem identification generally requires
       an extensive multi-disciplinary diagnostic evaluation" (p.43,
       GAO Draft Report).
         Available data on institutionalized delinquents reveals that those
         with learning disabilities have typically not been idei.-ified in
         school.
    8. Since "most of the subjects tested were culturally deprived,"
       measures of language dominance should have been included (p.75, GAO
       Draft Report). Moreover, the omission of subjects with poor
       English skills (p.78, GAO Draft Report) was not procedurally
       explained and test results could be depressed due to the use of
       inappropriate instruments for subjects from bilingual environments.
    9. We suggest that the report be changed to indicate that Verbal-
       Perfomance discrepancies of the kind used in classifying
       children as having "difficulties in expressive language" may
       haJe been due to confounding cultural and linguistic barriers
         (t. 77, ;0C    raft Report).
   10.   The ITPA, Wemnan and Bender tests used by the GAO researchers are
         inposrosrate; the rormative data compiled on the ITPA and Wepnian
         are rt e:piicaDle to adolescents; the Bender is normally used to
         indicate serious brain damage in children.
   1l. 'icsecific criteria were reported for the use of the supplementary
         tests "for further clarification of learning problems" (p. 79, GAO
         Draft Repor). The results could be biased if all subjects did
         not receive he sare treatment.

  GAO notes:     1. Comments have been deleted because of
                       changes to final   report.
                 2. Response to these comments      is in app. IV.
                 Page references in this appendix may not cor-
                 respond to page numbers of the final report.


                                        63
APPENDIX IV                                         APPENDIX IV


              HEW TECHNICAL COMMENTS AND OUR ANALYSIS

HEW comment

1.   While results are purported to provide a "reliable
picture for the institutionalized children of the States when
the tests were made," no demographic data on the experimental
population was provided.

Response
     Demographic data on the experimental population was not
available at the institutions. Thus, we were precluded from
taking a sample that would take into account various demo-
graphic characteristics. We believe, however, that the re-
sults do provide a reliable picture of the institutionalized
children when the tests were made.

HEW comment

2.   The raw data was not included in the report or furnished
for our review and approval.

Response

     It is not our policy to provide raw data for analysis,
review, and approval. In this particular study, each stu-
dent's protocol was examined by three diagnosticians of the
Kingsbury Center for reliability of classification, and the
diagnoses were further reviewed by a clinical psychologist.
We accept the collective judgments of the Kingsbury Center's
diagnosticians and the psychologist.

HEW comment

3.   Academic discrepancy was calculated relative to grade
placement for the chronological age rather than information
regarding IQ.  Intelligence quotient is critical to the
determination of discrepancies in academic performance.

Response

     HEW's comment is erroneous. The academic discrepancy
of each child as calculated by comparing his achievement
level to the level of his intellectual functioning or IQ.
Youngsters were classified according to discrepancy between
academic performance and academic expectations for their
ability as defined in appendix I, pages 47 to 5T1.--
                                                 .

                               64
APPENDIX IV                                       APPENDIX IV


     For differential diagnosis and appropriate remediation,
a youngster must be evaluated in relation to discrepancies
within himself. However, any youngster achieving more than
2 years below his grade placement for chronological age
presents a problem to his teacher and to the academic institu-
tion which he attends.

HEW comment

4.   The term "secondary learning problems" was used exten-
sively without operationally defining it.

Response

     The term "secondary learning problems" was deliberately
not given an operational definition.  It was simply set up
as the category into which all of the delinquents who were
of normal intelligence, underachieving, but not showing signs
of learning disability, could be placed. The purpose of the
study was to determine those delinquents who were learning
disabled. During the study it became necessary to describe
some other kinds of learning problems largely to clarify the
difference between such problems and learning disabilities.

HEW comiment

5.   Causation was inferred from correlational data.
Response

     T:&e statement referred to has been deleted from the
report.

HEW comment

6.   The use of 6 percent as the incidence for learning dis-
abilities in this report was based on 6 percent figure pur-
portedly cited by HEW. However, the figure that HEW actually
uses is 2 percent.

Response

     The report has been clarified to indicate that the
6-percent figure was cited by an HEW official.




                             65
                                                   APPENDIX IV
APPENDIX IV


HEW comment
                                                      estimate
7.   GAO reports that teachers were used to reliablyeven though
the number of children in need of special services
                                                   generally
they stated that "learning problem identification
                                       diagnostic  evaluation."
require an extensive multidisciplinary

Response
                                                  considered
     The report has been revised to state that we       evalu-
                                              requiring
teachers' estimates of the number of children to be generally
ation to determine the need fcr such ser'ices
reliable.
HEW comment

8.   Since most of the subjects tested were culturally
                                                 have been in-
deprived, measures of language dominance should
                                              English  skills
cluded. The ommission of subjects with poor
                                          results could be de-
was not procedurally explained, and test instruments  for sub-
pressed due to the use of inappropriate
jects from bilingual environments.

Response
                                                       of HEW
     There appears to be some contusion on the part
                                              "bilingual."
between the terms "culturally deprived" and         deprived
Most of the students tested came  from  culturally
                                                     in the
backgrounds but were not bilingual. The students
                                                    reviewed
population who were of bilingual background were        and
by the institution school staff  and the  consultants,
                                  without  formal  testing.   The
language dominance was evaluated                poor English
procedure followed for omitting students bewith
                                             validly  tested was
skills and including students who  co.uld
described on pages 52 and 53 of appendix I.

 HEW comment

 9.   We suggest that the report indicate that veroal-performance
                                               children as hav-
 discrepancies of the kind used in classifying
                                               have been due
 ing "difficulties in expressive language" may
 to confounding cultural and linguistic barriers.

 Response
                                                  expressive
      The problem of sorting out youngsters with and
                                       cultural      linguistic
 language disabilities from those with

                               66
APPENDIX IV                                     APPENDIX IV



disadvantage is recognized. However, our consultants believe
that specific language disability represents a constellation
of factors which can be differentiated from cultural deficits.
The verbal responses of students were qualitatively analyzed,
and the consultants believe it was possible to determine which
students had expressive language problems and which students
simply expressed themselves in nonstandard English. It was
evident that full credit answers could be given to Wechsler
Intelligence Scale For Children Verbal questions using non-
standard English. The students with expressive language
disability gave answers of very different quality from the
answers of culturally deprived or nonstandard English speakers.
HEW comment

10. The ITPA [Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities],
Wepman, and Bender tests used by GAO researchers are inappro-
priate; the normative data compiled on the ITPA and Wepman
are not applicable to adolescents; the Bender is normally
used to indicate serious brain damage in children.

Response

      The consultants feel that the Bender, Wepman, and ITPA
tests are appropriate. It is standard procedure in diag:,os-
_Jnq adolescents to use the perceptual motor and information
processing tests which have been normed on younger children.
If an adolescent shows difficulty with a skill that is nor-
mally acquired by the age of 8 or 10, this information can
be used in conjunction with the qualitative analysis of
educational testing to clarify the nature of the learning
problem.

     The EBender, Wepman, and the ITPA tests were not sccred
with norms designed for younger children but were evaluated
clinically, a ,rocedure which Loretta Bender prefers instead




                             67
APPENDIX IV                                    APPENDIX IV


of any formalized scoring procedure on her test. 1/ Wepman
also has discussed the use of his test with older-children. 2/
The Bender test is commonly used for children, adolescents,
tnd adults in a variety of ways. Elizabeth Koppitz, in her
                                                         dif-
book on the Bender Test, notes that it has been used to and
ferentiate among brain-damaged, emotionally disturbed,
normal adolescents. 3/
HEW comment

11. No specific criteria were reported for the use of the
supplementary tests for further clarification of learning
problems. The results could be biased if all subjects did
not receive the same treatment.
Response

     The differential diagnosis of subjects as to the nature
of their learning problems was done with the basic battery
of tests administered to all students. The supplementary
tests were used informally and nonnormatively for diagnostic-
prescriptive purposes. As requested by the institutions,
the consultants wrote reports that could be used by teachers
in designing educational programs fr each student in the
study.




l/Koppitz, Elizabeth M., The Bender Gestalt Test for Youn
  Children, Vol. TI (New York: Grune and Stratton, 1975),
  p. 9.

2/Wepman, Joseph W., Manual of Administration Scoring and
  Interpretation-Audi         -lmltort
                          - D-lscriina  l Test (Chicago, Ill:
  Language Research Association, i973)

 3/Koppitz, p. 73.


                             68
                                                              APPENDIX V
APPENDIX V

                          PRINCIPAL OFFICIALS OF

                  THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND THE

             DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFARE
               RESPONSIBLE FOR ADMINISTERING ACTIVITIES
                          DISCUSSED IN THIS REPORT

                                                  Tenure of office
                                                 From           To


                          DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

ATTORNEY GENERAL:
                                              Jan.     1977    Present
    Griffin B. Bell                                            Jan. 1977
    Edward H. Levi                            Feb.     1975
                                              Jan.     1974    Feb. 1975
    William B. Saxbe
    Robert H. Bork (acting)                   Oct.     1973    Jan. 1974
    Elliot L. Richardson                      May      1973    Oct. 1973
                                              June     1972    May   1973
    Richard G. Kleindienst
    Richard G. Kleindienst                                            1972
       (acting)                                Mar.    1972    June
                                               Jan.    1969    Feb.   1972
    John N. Mitchell

ADMINISTRATOR, LAW ENFORCEMENT
  ASSISTANCE ADMINISTRATION:
    Richard W. Velde                           Sept.   1974    Present
                                               Apr.    1973    Aug.  1974
    Donald E. Santarelli                                             1973
    Jerris Leonard                             May     1971    Mar.
                                               June    1970    May   1971
    Vacant
    Charles H. Rogovin                         Mar.    1969    June 1970


             DEPARTMENT    OFHEALTH        EDUCATION, AND WELFARE

 SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION,
   AND WELFARE:
     Joseph A. Califano Jr.                    Jan.    1977     Present
     David Mathews                             Aug.    1975     Jan. 1977
     Caspar W. Weinberger                      Feb.    1973     Auk-. 1975
     Frank C. Carlucci (acting)                Jan.    1973     Feb. 1973
     Elliot L. Richardson                      June    1970     Jan. 1973



                                      69
APPENDIX V                                        APPENDIX V



                                        Tenure of office
                                       From           To


       DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND WELFA'"   (Cont'd)

ASSISTANT SECRETARY (EDUCATION):
    Philip E. Austin (acting)       Jan.   1977     Present
    Virginia Y. Trotter             June   1974     Jan. 1977
    Charles B. Saunders, Jr.
      (acting)                      Nov.   1973     June   1974
    Sidney P. Marland, Jr.          Nov.   1972     Nov.   1973

COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION:
    William F. Pierce (acting)      Jan.   1977     Present
    Edward Aguirre                  Oct.   1976     Jan. i977
    William F. Pierce (acting)      Aug.   1976     Oct. 1976
    Terrel H. Bell                  June   !974     Aug. 1976
    John R. Ottina                  Aug.   1973     June 1974
    John R. Ottina (acting)         Nov.   1972     Aug. 1973
    Sidney P. MaLland, Jr.          Dec.   1970     Nov. 1972




                             70