BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Behavioral disorders are highly comorbid with childhood learning disabilities (LDs), and accurate identification of LDs is vital for guiding appropriate interventions. However, it is difficult to conduct comprehensive assessment of academic skills within the context of primary care visits, lending utility to screening of academic skills via informant reports. The current study evaluated the clinical utility of a parent-reported screening measure in identifying children with learning difficulties.
METHODS: Participants included 440 children (66.7% male), ages 5.25 to 17.83 years (mean = 10.32 years, SD = 3.06 years), referred for neuropsychological assessment. Academic difficulties were screened by parent report using the Colorado Learning Difficulties Questionnaire (CLDQ). Reading and math skills were assessed via individually administered academic achievement measures. Sensitivity, specificity, classification accuracy, and conditional probabilities were calculated to evaluate the efficacy of the CLDQ in predicting academic impairment.
RESULTS: Correlations between the CLDQ reading scale and reading achievement measures ranged from −0.35 to −0.65 and from −0.24 to −0.46 between the CLDQ math scale and math achievement measures (all P < .01). Sensitivity was good for both reading and math scales, whereas specificity was low. Taking into account the high base rate of reading and math LDs within our sample, the conditional probability of true negatives (96.2% reading, 85.1% math) was higher than for true positives (40.5% reading, 37.9% math).
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the CLDQ may more accurately predict children without LDs than children with LDs. As such, the absence of parent-reported difficulties may be adequate to rule out an overt LD, whereas elevated scores likely indicate the need for more comprehensive assessment.
- ADHD —
- attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- CLDQ —
- Colorado Learning Difficulties Questionnaire
- LD —
- learning disability
- WIAT-III —
- Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Third Edition
- WJ-III —
- Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, Third Edition
- Accepted August 19, 2013.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics