Beyond the “Third Method” for the Assessment of Developmental Dyscalculia: Implications for Research and Practice

  • Vivian Reigosa-CrespoEmail author


There has been a continuous debate on different criteria on assessment of mathematical learning disability (MLD). Originally, MLD was defined as an unexpected failure to acquire basic mathematics skills despite normal intelligence, adequate schooling, and absence of neurological or psychiatric disorders. This approach, based on a discrepancy between the intelligence and the academic skills, has been largely criticized. One of the strongest candidates to replace this approach has been the response-to-intervention (RTI) instruction model, where the focus has been in the student’s learning in optimal learning conditions, for example, when participating in an evidence-based intervention program. However, the RTI approach does not sufficiently take into account the individual factors that affect the responsiveness to a mathematical intervention and does not have effective algorithms for differential diagnosis of specific MLD and low attainment in mathematics. Therefore, a third alternative in assessment has focused on cognitive patterns of strengths and weaknesses (PSW). The PSW model offers several theoretical and empirical advances to the previous models. However, there is also strong evidence supporting a view that severe forms of MLD would stem from a core deficit that is independent of the comorbid, but individually varying, cognitive disorders. The selected approach also has direct implications for educational policy and practice in classrooms.


Assessment Discrepancy model Response to intervention Cognitive patterns of strengths and weaknesses Mathematical learning disability Dyscalculia School-based program Neurocognitive development 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational Neuroscience LabCuban Center for NeurosciencesHavanaCuba

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