Learning Disabilities

Documentation Guidelines

Learning Disabilities

I. The evaluation must be done by a qualified professional. Appropriately qualified professionals include: licensed counseling/clinical psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists, and certified or licensed learning disabilities specialists.

A. This documentation can be prepared only by a person who is not a family member of the student and who is qualified by professional training and practice to diagnose and treat the impairment leading to the disability.

B. The evaluator must include credentials, licensure/certification information, address and telephone number. 

C. The evaluation must be typed on professional letterhead, signed and dated.

II. Evaluation documentation must be current, usually within the past three years so as to address the current level of functioning and need for accommodations. Individualized Educational Plans (IEP) and Section 504 plans are valuable sources of information but are not sufficient for documentation of a disability and establishment of accommodations. 

III. Documentation must be a comprehensive report of a psychoeducational assessment. All documentation is confidential and is on file only at the Office of Accessibility and Disability Services. In accordance with the guidelines developed by the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), the psychoeducational assessment should include:

A. Relevant educational, developmental and medical/psychiatric history.

B. Information from a diagnostic interview and behavioral observations.

C. Information to substantiate the diagnosis: Test instruments should be selected in accordance with the professional judgment of the individual performing the assessment. In general, however, the tests used should be recognized instruments that are valid and that have appropriate norms. All subtests and other test scores must be reported in standard score format. The assessment must show specific evidence of discrepancies and intra-individual differences that result in substantial functional limitations to learning. The domains of intellectual aptitude, academic achievement, and cognitive processing should be assessed. 

1. Aptitude: a complete intellectual assessment is required, with all subtests and standard scores reported. The most current version of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) is the preferred instrument.  Also acceptable are current versions of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Part 1, Tests of Cognitive Ability or the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. Abbreviated tests, such as the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT), are not comprehensive and thus, not sufficient.

2. Academic Achievement: a comprehensive academic achievement battery with all subtests and standard scores reported for those subtests administered. The battery should include current levels of academic functioning in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics and oral and written language. Acceptable instruments include current versions of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Tests of Achievement, Stanford Test of Academic Skills (STAS), or the Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA). Abbreviated tests such as the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) or the Mini-Battery of Achievement (MBA) are not comprehensive measures of achievement and thus, are not sufficient as a sole measure of achievement. 

3. Information Processing: specific areas of information processing (e.g., short and long term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual processing, processing, speed, executive functioning and motor ability). Use of subtests from the WAIS-3, and /or the cognitive portion of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Part 1, Tests of Cognitive Ability are acceptable. Additional testing, such as the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-3), designed to assist in corroborating the existence of processing disorders as identified by the WAIS-3 or the WJPEB Part 1, should be used when relevant.

4.  Evidence that the evaluator has ruled out alternative explanations for academic problems, such as poor motivation, poor study skills, psychological problems, etc.

D. Conclusion: The report should conclude with a clinical summary which describes the functional limitations resulting from the disability. 

E.  The DSM diagnosis and code. Non-specific statements of the condition (e.g., "relative weaknesses," "learning disability," "deficits in") without a formal diagnosis are not sufficient.

F.   Specific recommendations for accommodations should be based upon the evidence of a substantial limitation to learning supported by specific test results and clinical observations and then directly related to the student's functional limitations. These should be specific to an adult educational setting that may be residential. 

IV. The Office of Accessibility and Disability Services will make the final determination of eligibility for accommodations and reserves the right to deny services or reasonable accommodations while the receipt of appropriate documentation is pending. Students must complete the registration process, submit disability documentation and bring a current detailed schedule before they can receive accommodations and services. All documentation is confidential and on file only at the Office of Accessibility and Disability Services.