Guidelines for Learning Disability Accommodation
Who is Considered a Qualified Student with a Learning Disability?
In order to provide quality services to students with learning disabilities, Texas State University requires a student to provide verification of a learning disability to the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at the time services are requested. A student who has an existing diagnosis or documentation of a learning disability which has been completed by a certified professional (e.g., psychologist, school psychologist, educational diagnostician) within the last five years may submit this documentation to the ODS for consideration. In certain cases, updated information may be required. A student must meet the criteria outlined in this guideline to qualify for services and accommodations at the university. In certain cases, accommodations may be recommended on the basis of other evidence of a learning disability.
For cognitive disorders, refer to the “Guidelines for Acquired Brain Injury Accommodation (Attachment VII); for Attention Deficit Disorder refer to the "Guidelines for Attention Deficit Disorder Accommodation" (Attachment VIII); for mobility and other disabilities refer to the "Guidelines for General Disability Accommodation" (Attachment IX); and for psychological disabilities refer to the "Guidelines for Psychological Disability Accommodation" (Attachment XI).
A student needing documentation of a learning disability can receive referrals from the ODS. It is the responsibility of the student, not the ODS or the university to pay for the cost of an evaluation.
Students should keep a copy of any disability documentation provided to the ODS for their own records. The ODS will maintain a student's file no longer than five years after graduation or the last semester services are requested.
What is Learning Disability Criteria?
A diagnosis for learning disability should generally indicate a significant deficit in at least one academic area or one of the specific learning processes. It may also include discrepancies between verbal and performance test scores on a measure of general intelligence. Specific diagnostic criteria must indicate the following:
a. Exclusion of other disabilities as the primary cause of learning difficulties. Such disabilities include:
1) mental retardation
2) visual impairment*
3) hearing impairment*
4) physical impairment*
5) history of multiple education settings (K-12)
6) poor educational background or lack of prior learning
7) cultural differences or lack of experience with the English language
*A student may experience learning difficulties as a result of some physical or sensory impairment (e.g., visual, auditory, head injury, etc.). When this occurs, the student may be provided services and accommodations as an otherwise qualified disabled student. The diagnosis and classification of learning disability is appropriately applied to students who experience learning difficulties for reasons other than these conditions.
b. Significant discrepancy calculation relative to expectancy. Discrepancy is defined as a negative difference of at least 15 (standard score) points or one standard deviation between the standard score on an intelligence test and a standard score obtained on tests of an academic area or in a specific area of cognitive processing. Validity of a significant discrepancy will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Documentation meeting two of the following criteria:
1) Intelligence-Achievement: A full scale, verbal or performance intelligence quotient as measured on an intelligence test, and a standard score on a related achievement test in one or more of the following academic areas: reading, spelling, written expression, mathematics.
2) Verbal-Performance Intelligence Quotients: A verbal and performance intelligence quotient as measured on an intelligence test.
3) Cognitive Processing Abilities: Specific cognitive processing abilities as measured on a standardized test may include:
a) Visual Processing (e.g., visual-perceptual speed, visual spatial abilities, visual-motor integration and visual memory)
b) Auditory Processing (e.g., auditory sequencing ability, auditory discrimination, auditory concentration skills and auditory memory)
c) Verbal Processing (e.g., word retrieval abilities and verbal fluency)
d) Reasoning Ability (e.g., ability to approach problem solving in a logical and sequential manner and ability to shift cognitive strategies as the specific task requires)
4) Documented history of learning difficulties.
What Type of Diagnostic Assessment is Required?
A diagnostic evaluation for learning disabilities should include the following types of assessment and testing. Other valid assessments will be considered.
a. Psycho-educational History – to determine past history of learning difficulties, familial patterns indicative of learning problems;
b. Medical History – to determine physical or medical problems which may cause learning problems (e.g., high fever, physical injury, etc.);
c. Intellectual Assessment – recommended tests include: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale Third Edition (WAIS-III), Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Ability;
d. Achievement – recommended tests include: Woodcock Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised, Nelson Denny Reading Test, SATA;
e. Cognitive Processing Abilities – recommended tests include: Woodcock Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised (Part 1 - Tests of Cognitive Ability), Wechsler Memory Scales-Revised, Benton Visual Retention Test, Berry Visuo-Motor Integration Test, Raven Colored Progressive Matrices, Rex Auditory-Verbal Learning Test, Bender Visual Motor Gestalt Test, Halstead- Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery, Memory-For-Designs Test; and
f. Bilingual Assessment – Assessment levels for the culturally linguistically diverse:
*Level 1: Bilingual assessment professional fluent in the student's native language using assessment measures in the student's two languages.
*Level 2: Bilingual assessment professional fluent in the student's native language using assessment measures in the student's two languages that require some modification from the standardization or whose norming population is different from the student's background.
Level 3: English speaking assessment professional assisted by a bilingual ancillary examiner using standardized assessment measures without translation.
*Level 1 or Level 2 is preferred.
In addition to the diagnostic evaluation, a report should include recommended academic accommodations. Accommodations for a learning disability may include extended test time, reduced distraction environment for testing, seating in front of the classroom, advance registration of classes, and reduced course load. In addition for use by the university, these recommended accommodations might be needed in the future for standardized tests including the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
How are Accommodations and Support Services Determined?
Within 30 days of receiving the diagnostic evaluation or report, the ODS will review the need for accommodations and support services based on the individual's disability documentation and disability-based need. The ODS will notify the student after determining appropriate accommodations in accordance with Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA Amendments Act of 2008, and university policy. For a description of services available for students with disabilities at Texas State, see the Office of Disability Services brochure.