Study: Students with Specific Learning Disabilities Improve with Program

Research has demonstrated that a comprehensive, integrated cognitive skills training program can raise the cognitive functioning of students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) to parity with normally developing students. The results were presented in May at the Learning and the Brain Conference in Arlington, VA and in a Neuroscience in Education Webinar.

Students in the study who used BrainWare Safari for 12 weeks improved their cognitive functioning by 2.8 years compared to 2 months for a control group. Their overall cognitive proficiency increased from 64% to 89%, where 90% is the expected proficiency for a normally developing student. The control group improved just 1 point in cognitive proficiency, from 63% to 64%.

SLD is a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes. While students with SLD often have deficits in cognitive processes, such as executive functions, verbal and visual working memory, and processing speed, support for students with SLD has typically focused on accommodating rather than remediating their deficits. This new research shows remediation of key underlying psychological processes for students with SLD.

“Previous research has suggested that students with SLD must develop their underlying cognitive skills in order to benefit from interventions,” said Dr. Sarah Avtzon, the study’s leader and an Assistant Professor and Director of Early Childhood Development at Daemen College. “These results show not only that we can help students develop these critical skills but the cognitive improvements translate into dramatic gains in reading and math performance.”

The SLD students in the study who used BrainWare Safari improved their reading ability by 0.8 grade equivalent (GE) in 12 weeks, compared to 0.1 GE for the control group. Math performance improved by a full grade equivalent for the study group, compared to 0.2 GE for the control group.

Concludes Dr. Avtzon, “By targeting the underlying processing skills most directly linked with academic performance, we can close the achievement gap between students with SLD and typically developing peers.”