DEFINITION OF LEARNING DISABILITY:
A learning disability is generally defined as a significant discrepancy between achievement and ability with intra-cognitive discrepancies not attributable to other disabling conditions or to environmental deprivation. Documentation for learning disabilities is required for academic adjustments and is obtained at the student's expense.
The following documentation criteria are used to identify qualified individuals with learning disabilities for special admissions consideration and to determine disability-related support services.
Verification of a learning disability shall include all of the following:
- Documentation must be prepared by a professional qualified to diagnose a learning disability, (e.g. licensed psychologist, learning disabilities specialist, or neuropsychologist). Collaboration with speech and language clinicians, reading specialist, and other educational professionals may be appropriate and necessary for a comprehensive assessment of a student's needs; however, these professionals are not generally considered qualified to diagnose a learning disability.
- Documentation must include results of a clinical interview with the individual with descriptions of the testing procedures, instruments used, along with test and subtest results reported in standard scores as well as percentile rank and grade scores where useful, and interpretation and recommendations based on the data gathered.
- Documentation must be comprehensive and include test results in the following areas where applicable: intelligence, reading, mathematics, spelling, written language, language processing, and cognitive processing skills. Testing should carefully examine areas of concern/weakness as well as areas of strengths so a complete profile of a individual's learning is developed.
- Documentation must include a clear diagnostic statement based on test results and personal history.
In general, documentation should be dated no more than three years prior to admission as requested from Student Special Services. Documentation older than three years often does not adequately reflect an individual's current status because compensation and maturation skills, as well as accommodation needs, change over time. Historical documentation of disability provides useful information; however, it alone may not be used to determine service eligibility.
- Documentation must include recommendations regarding effective academic accommodations to equalize this student's educational opportunities at the post-secondary level; that is, describe the services or accommodations needed for exam administration, classroom or study activities for fulfillment of course requirements.
ASSESSMENT TOOL GUIDELINES FOR LEARNING DISABILITIES:
Selection of test instruments should be individually tailored to answer the referral issues of the student. Instruments should be to the extent possible, be normed on an age, educational, and culturally appropriate sample. The domains of intelligence, academic achievement and cognitive processing should all be assessed when a diagnosis is to be made. The following instruments are examples of tests that would be considered appropriate for use in the diagnosis of a learning disability in adults:
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R)
Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-Revised, Cognitive and Achievement Section
Halsted-Retan Neuropsychological Test Battery for Adults
Nelson-Denny Reading Test
This list is not intended to be exhaustive nor restrict assessment in other pertinent areas. Other tests may be deemed appropriate based on the presenting issues of the individual. Referral issues presented by the student should guide the assessment. However, it is not appropriate to base a diagnosis on the results of one test in a single domain.
Accommodations and academically-related services for students with learning disabilities are designed to accommodate a perceptual disorder impairing the student's ability to acquire, process, or communicate information. Accommodations are not designed to provide remediation. Accommodations and services are determined based on collaboration between the student, Student Special Services staff, and in most cases, with the faculty teaching the course in which the student is enrolled. Each academic accommodation is determined on an individual basis and made available to the extent that it does not compromise the academic integrity of the student's program.