Every report submitted to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) for a learning disability must meet the following guidelines:
- The report must be recent (within the past three years).
- The report must provide adequate information about the student’s current level of functioning. If such information is missing and/or outdated, the student may be asked to provide a more recent or complete assessment.
- Documentation must be in the form of a Neuropsychological or Psychoeducational Report and include the following:
- Diagnostic interview summary
- Required neuropsychological and/or psychoeducational tests
- Clinical summary, recommendations, accommodations, and diagnosis
Diagnostic Interview Summary
The interview should focus on the student’s developmental and educational history, including any persistent academic or emotional problems. Comorbid conditions should be discussed and there should be a statement explaining whether the learning disability or the other condition is the primary diagnosis.
Required Neuropsychological and/or Psychoeducational Tests
- Tests used to document eligibility must be normed, standardized, and otherwise technically sound (e.g., statistically reliable and valid) and should be standardized for use with an adult population.
- There should be a discussion of all tests that were administered and observations of the student’s behavior during testing. Actual test scores must be provided. Standard scores are required; percentiles and grade and age equivalents are not acceptable unless standard scores are also included. In addition to actual test scores, interpretation of results is required.
- Test protocol sheets or scores alone are not sufficient; some form of narrative must accompany scores.
- If time constraints for exams are an issue, tests should be administered both timed and untimed, and scores for both testing conditions should be reported. Non-standardized, non-normed measures (such as informal reading inventories or writing samples) may supplement standardized testing, but are insufficient documentation by themselves.
- Documentation must state a specific diagnosed learning disability, not a “learning difficulty” or “learning deficit.”
Appropriate tests include:
- Aptitude tests (also known as tests of cognitive ability, intelligence testing, IQ testing or a psychological evaluation). Examples include the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales (WAIS) and the Woodcock-Johnson-III - Tests of Cognitive Ability.
- Academic achievement tests (sometimes called an educational evaluation or academic testing). Examples include the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT III) and the Woodcock-Johnson-III - Tests of Achievement. Screening assessments or brief batteries do not constitute a complete measure of achievement.
- If applicable, additional supplemental tests, such as the Nelson-Denny Reading Test for both normal and extended time conditions, Test of Written Language-3, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised.
Clinical Summary, Recommendations, Accommodations, and Diagnosis
- Clinical summary: The clinical summary should integrate the elements of the battery with background information and observations of the client during the testing situation.
- Recommendations: The recommendations should explain how the student’s performance demonstrates a need for accommodation(s) at the post-secondary level. This report should present evidence of a substantial limitation to learning and explain how the patterns of strength and weakness are sufficiently significant to substantiate a learning disability diagnosis.
- Accommodations: The rationale for a recommended accommodation as expressed in the assessment report must be clear and convincing as to the necessity of the accommodations to achieve equal access. Further, reasonable adjustments, support services, and auxiliary aids are those which 1) do not constitute fundamental alteration of the nature of the course or of essential course requirements and 2) are not items or services of a personal nature.
- Rule out other factors: The report should demonstrate that the evaluator has ruled out alternative explanations for the learning problem. Individual learning styles and learning differences in and of themselves do not constitute a learning disability. If social or emotional factors are believed to contribute to the pattern of observed scores, they should be discussed.
- Diagnosis: The report must clearly state a diagnosis of a learning disorder. The components of and criteria for a diagnosis of learning disorders are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-V).