Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 218–253 | Cite as

Complexities in identifying and defining mathematics learning disability in the primary school-age years

  • Michèle M. M. Mazzocco
  • Gwen F. Myers
Part III Speech Development, Perception, and Production; Components of Reading; Defining Mathematics Learning Disability


This paper is a descriptive report of findings from a prospective longitudinal study of math disability (MD). The study was designed to address the incidence of MD during primary school, the utility of different MD definitions, and evidence of MD subtypes. The results illustrate the dynamic properties of psychometrically derived definitions of MD. Different groups of children meet criteria for MD depending on which measure(s) are used for identification. Over time, a given individual may not continue to meet MD criteria, even when using the same assessments. Thus, the findings lead to cautions regarding the single-tool/ one-time assessment for a clinical diagnosis of MD. Twenty-two of 209 participants demonstrated “persistent MD” (MD-p), or MD for more than one school grade. Reading disability was relatively more frequent in this MD-p subgroup than in the remaining participants (25 percent vs. 7 percent). Reading-related skills were correlated with math achievement, as were select visual spatial skills. There was minimal overlap between groups who met either a “poor achievement” criteria or an “IQ-achievement discrepancy,” and the latter was far less stable a measure over time than the former. The results highlight the complexities of defining MD and illustrate the need for more research in this area.


Intelligence Quotient Reading Disability Learn Disability Dyslexia Rapid Automatize Naming 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimore
  2. 2.Kennedy Krieger InstituteUSA

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