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Study and results

Researchers at the Frostig Center in Pasadena, California designed a longitudinal study to follow former students in an effort to identify factors that led to success. Qualitative and quantitative data was gathered from over 40 students with LD at four stages in their lives: entry into the Frostig Center, exit from the Frostig Center, 10 year follow-up (n=48), and 20 year follow-up (n=41). Researchers rated the former students on their status in the following domains: employment, education, independence, family relationships, community relations/interests, crime/substance abuses, physical health, and psychological health. Success variables included life satisfaction, educational attainment, employment position, psychological health, and the nature of social and family relationships. Quantitative data analysis compared personal attributes and behavior as well as demographic data to determine the best predictors of success at years 10 and 20. The results indicated that what the researchers term “success attributes” of self-awareness, pro-activity (decision-making, empowerment), perseverance (faces difficulties), goal setting, effective support systems, and emotional stability were more accurate predictors of success than background variables such as IQ and academic achievement.

Note: Not every successful individual displayed every success attribute and there were unsuccessful students with success attributes. A combination model explains only the likelihood to a greater or lesser extent that certain variables are related to success. The results are also limited by the small sample size and self-report nature of some of the data.

Bottom line

Successful transition to adulthood for students with LD may be affected as much by these success attributes as by academic ability or achievement. School programs for students with LD should therefore balance teaching academics with the development of success attributes.

Raskind, Goldberg, Higgins, & Herman (1999) Predictors of Success in Individuals with Learning Disabilities: Results from a Twenty-Year Longitudinal Study. Pasadena, CA: Frostig Center.
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