Guidelines for Documentation for Specific Learning Disabilities
These guidelines are provided to identify evaluation reports that appropriately document students with specific learning disabilities. Students with the appropriate documentation may receive accommodations through the Office of Educational Accessibility. If you have questions regarding any of these guidelines, please contact the Office of Educational Accessibility at (757) 683-4655.
- Evaluations must be comprehensive. Documentation must show that DSM-IV-TR criteria for learning disorders have been met.
- Aptitude. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-III) with subtest scores or the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability are the preferred instruments.
- Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics and written language are required. Among the preferred instruments are the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-revised: Test of Achievement, the Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults, and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised. The Wide Range Achievement Test is not preferred. Evaluation of the student's current record of academic achievement may be applicable.
- Information Processing. Specific areas of information processing (e.g. short and long term memory; sequential memory; auditory and visual perception/processing; processing speed) must be assessed. Use of subtests for the WAIS-R or the Woodcock-Johnson Test of cognitive Ability are acceptable.
- Testing must be current. In most cases, this means within the past three years or at least in late adolescence. If the student entering the program is an older adult, the testing should have been carried out during or, preferably, following late adolescence. Since assessment constitutes the basis for determining reasonable accommodations, it is in a student's best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation to serve as the basis for designing appropriate accommodations in an academically competitive college environment.
- Documentation must state clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability. Individual "learning styles" and "learning differences" in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability.
- Test scores/data should be included. This is important since certain University policies and procedures (e.g. petitioning for permission to substitute courses) require actual data to substantiate eligibility.
- Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Trained and certified and/or licensed psychologists, learning disabilities specialists and educational therapists are usually those professions involved in the process of assessment. The person who signs the report should be the person who administers the tests and writes the report. Experience in working with an adult population is essential.
- Evaluators should be able to demonstrate that the selection of assessment instruments is based upon the suitability (i.e. reliability and validity) for use with an adult population.
- Diagnostic reports must include the names, titles and license information (state and number, if applicable) of the evaluators as well as the date(s) or testing.
- Reports should contain recommendations about accommodations for the academic setting, which the University will consider.