Introduction Students with learning disabilities appear to struggle with writing more than their typically achieving peers. Effective writing strategies need to be implemented in order to help learning disabled students meet the Common Core writing standards. This chapter will show the benefits of teaching Self Regulated Strategy Development to students with learning disabilities. Difficulties Mastering the Writing Process are More Prevalent for Students with Learning Disabilities
When compared to normally achieving students, students with learning disabilities tend to produce writing samples that are shorter, less coherent and less refined. (Graham, Schwartz & MacArthur, 1993). Their poor writing performance can be attributed to difficulties in executing and monitoring many of the cognitive processes considered central to effective writing (Graham & Harris, 1989). These students are frequently less knowledgeable about how to develop and organize ideas, control and regulate the writing process, and monitor the quality of the text produced (Englert, Raphael, Fear & Anderson, 1988). A study by Graham, Schwartz & MacArthur (1991) showed normally achieving students were more knowledgeable than students with LD about writing and the writing process. When responding to questions about revising, normally achieving students were much more likely than students with LD to concentrate on substantive issues. LD students were more likely to suggest revising mechanical errors. For planning, when students with LD were asked what they would do if they were having difficulty with an assignment, the most common answer was to ask the teacher for help. Normally achieving students’ most common answer was they would gather more information on the subject.
Scardmalia and Bereiter (1986) identified five areas that are problematic for students with LD when writing. They are generating content, creating and organizing structure for compositions, formulating goals and higher plans, quickly and efficiently executing mechanical aspects of writing, and revising text and reformulating goals. Students with LD are at a disadvantage compared to their peers. These students require more extensive strategies and explicit instruction to learn skills and processes that other students learn more easily. (Newcomer, Nodine, & Barenbaum, 1988).
Definition of Learning Disability
The Individuals with Disabilities act (2004) includes a definition of specific learning disability as
Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.
Students with Learning Disabilities Meeting Common Core Standards in Writing
During the past several decades, efforts to improve writing have played a minor role in education reform in the United States (Graham & Harris 2013). The creation of Common Core State Standards has put greater emphasis on teaching writing. Students with learning disabilities are expected to meet the Common Core standards in writing. According to Graham and Harris: Students for the 45 states that adopted CCSS writing is now a central player in their efforts to improve education. Students in these states must now learn to craft text that skillfully persuade, inform, and narrate imagined or real experiences. They must become adept at using these different types of writing as a tool to help analyze and think about the text they