Special Services » Process for Determining a Specific Learning Disability

Process for Determining a Specific Learning Disability



What is a Specific Learning Disability?


A Specific Learning Disability is “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A SLD does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” 34 CFR 300.8 (c )(10).

The model used by the Old Redford Academy School District for the identification of Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) emphasizes the full and individual evaluation as a process of data collection that includes multiple methods of assessing student performance with input from parents, teachers, instructional specialists and staff such as school psychologists. The purpose of the evaluation is to surround the student of concern with the best and most comprehensive information possible to make valid and appropriate recommendations as to the student’s eligibility for special education and , more importantly, educationally relevant recommendations for instructional strategies, supports, and services.

The Old Redford Academy School District will utilize an underachievement plus Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses model for the determination of a Specific Learning Disability for all buildings and all grades in the district and includes the following:

  1. The student does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or to meet State-approved grade level standards in one or more of the areas identified at 34 CFR 300.309(a)(1)(i) when provided learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s age or State-approved grade level standards; and
  2. The student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) to be relevant to the identification of a SLD, using appropriate assessments, consistent with the IDEA Evaluation Procedures and Additional Requirements for Evaluations and Reevaluations.

In making a determination as to whether a student has or continues to have a Specific Learning Disability, the Old Redford Academy School District will also comply with all applicable federal regulations and State rules, including those addressing comprehensive evaluations, determination of the existence of a specific learning disability, observation of academic performance and behavior in the area(s) of difficulty, specific documentation of SLD eligibility determination, and reevaluation requirements.

Additional parent resources:


MDE Criteria for Determining the Existence of a Specific Learning Disability



LD Online for Parents 



National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities