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This study investigated whether a latent class of children with math difficulties (MD) or math learning disabilities (MLD) emerged within a heterogeneous sample of learners. A latent class analysis was computed on children (N = 447) in Grade 3 who were administered a battery of math, reading, and cognitive measures. The analysis yielded four important findings. First, a discrete latent class of children with MD (15% of the sample) or MLD (10% of the sample) emerged when setting cut-off scores at or below the 25th and 11th percentile, respectively. Second, model testing yielded a high probability of finding children with MD or MLD with reading problems as well as a latent class of low problem solvers with average reading and calculation scores. Third, knowledge of problem solving component processes, estimation and the executive component of WM were significant and unique correlates of latent classes at both cut-off points. Finally, children defined as MD at 25th percentile cut-off but not 11th percentile cut-off yielded high effect sizes on measures of reading, but not on cognitive measures, when compared with children identified at risk at both cut-off points. The results suggest that a statistically distinct latent class of children at risk for MD or MLD can be separated from a heterogeneous sample of children who vary in math, reading and fluid intelligence.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Educational Psychology, volume 110, issue 7, in 2017 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

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American Psychological Association



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