GUIDELINES FOR DOCUMENTATION OF A LEARNING DISABILITY
IN ADOLESCENTS AND ADULTS
It is the policy and practice of Northeast State to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Under these laws, no qualified individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities offered by Northeast State. Academic accommodations are provided to otherwise qualified students with documented learning disabilities so that these students are viewed according to their abilities, not disabilities.
A learning disability is generally defined as a significant discrepancy between achievement and ability or an intra-cognitive discrepancy not attributable to other handicapping conditions or to environmental deprivation. Documentation for learning disabilities is required for academic adjustments or accommodations.
The following guidelines are provided in the interest of assuring that evaluation reports are appropriate to document eligibility on the basis of a learning disability that substantially limits learning. The Coordinator of the Center for Students with Disabilities is available to consult with diagnosticians regarding any of these guidelines.
- Testing must be comprehensive. It is not acceptable to administer only one test for the purpose of diagnosis. Minimally, domains to be addressed must include:
- Aptitude. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised [WAIS-R] with subtest scores is the preferred instrument. The Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability, Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test , or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale: Fourth Edition are acceptable.
- Achievement. Current levels of functioning in reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics, and oral and written language are required.A comprehensive academic achievement battery is essential with all subtests and standard scores reported for those subtests administered.
- 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. Other assessment measures such as non-standard measures and informal assessment procedures or observations may be helpful in determining performance across a variety of domains. Other formal assessment measures may be integrated with the above instruments to help determine a learning disability and differentiate it from co-existing neurological and/or psychological disorders.
- Testing must be current. In most cases, this means within the past three years or after age sixteen. Since reasonable accommodations are determined based on assessment of the impact of the student's disability on academic performance, it is in a student' s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation relevant to the student's learning environment.
- Clear and specific evidence and identification of a learning disability must be included in the evaluation report(s). Individual 'learning styles' and 'learning differences' do not constitute a learning disability. It is important to rule out alternative explanations for problems in learning such as emotional, attentional or motivational problems that may be interfering with learning but do not constitute a learning disability. The diagnostician is encouraged to use direct language in the diagnosis and documentation of a learning disability, avoiding the use of terms such as 'suggests' or 'is indicative of.'
- The test score date should be included. The data should logically reflect a substantial limitation to learning for which the student is requesting the accommodation. The particular profile of the student's strengths and weaknesses must be shown to relate to functional limitations that may necessitate accommodations.
- Professionals conducting assessment and rendering diagnosis of specific learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Comprehensive training and direct experience with an adolescent and adult LD population is essential. Licensed psychologists, learning disabilities specialists, and educational therapists are typically involved in the process of assessment. The evaluator's name, title, signature, professional credentials and the state in which the individual practices should be included in the evaluation report. The evaluator's address, phone number and place of employment should be included in the letterhead.
- Evaluators should be able to demonstrate that the selection of assessment instruments is based upon their suitability for use with an adult population.
ALL DOCUMENTATION IS CONFIDENTIAL AND SHOULD BE SUBMITTED TO:
Coordinator, Center for Students with Disabilities
Northeast State Community College
2425 Highway 75
P.O. Box 246
Blountville, TN 37617