Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Tammie Spaulding

Associate Advisor

Carl Coelho

Associate Advisor

Joseph Madaus

Field of Study

Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Purpose- This investigation determined how students with Learning Disabilities (LD) navigate the transition from grade 8 to grade 9 compared to their non-disabled peers. This longitudinal study assessed group and grade differences on three factors found to be important for school success.

Method- Participants included a group of students with LD (n=29) and their non-disabled peers (n=29). Academic performance, attendance, and problem behaviors were measured for each student in 7th through 10th grade. Students were identified as “at risk” of not meeting basic school success if they fell below an empirically derived cut-off risk criterion.

Results- Students with LD exhibited significantly poorer academic performance, lower attendance rates, and were at greater risk of not meeting basic school success. Grade 7 and 8 academic performance and grade 8 attendance correctly differentiated 88.9% of those at risk and 93.5% of those not at risk of poor school success. While 2/3rds of students with no disability recovered from this risk, only a little more than 1/3rd of students with LD recovered. Grade 7, 8, and 9 academic performance and grade 8 attendance predicted 100% of students who recover and 100% of students who do not recover.

Discussion- The findings heighten awareness of the challenges presented by the grade 9 transition for students with LD. This is the first step towards implementing preventative measures to facilitate success during this critical transition.