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Teachers’ academic appraisals and referral decisions: The effect of sharing health information when diabetes is present


Correspondence to: David L. Wodrich, Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, P.O. Box 210069-0069, Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail:


Two prior studies showed that giving teachers more information about a student's illness led them to make better attributions about that student's classroom problems and better classroom accommodations. In this study, 235 teachers appraised academic competence and judged whether to seek help or make a referral for a hypothetical student with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). Teachers received one of five levels comprising increasing disease disclosure and classroom-relevant information about T1DM. Contrary to prior studies, teachers in this study who were given a student's T1DM diagnosis and details about T1DM's classroom risks failed to make better judgments about the student's academic skill levels or to award more accurate grades. Instead, teachers seemed swayed by this student's apparently careless and inconsistent schoolwork, which was presumably disease related. Likewise, better-informed teachers were no better at selecting accommodations. However, once it was disclosed that the hypothetical student had T1DM, most teachers seemed knowledgeable about the most appropriate potential Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act category for service delivery. Regarding practice issues, school psychologists were rarely selected as a first choice for consultation, and the more information teachers were provided with about T1DM and the student's disease status, the less likely they were to select a school psychologist as a consultant.