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Special Education & Learning Disabilities Resources: A Nationwide Directory


Assessing Your Child's Learning Difficulty or Learning Disability

A Brief Explanation...

If you or your child's teacher sees that your child may have trouble learning, you should probably pursue a learning disabilities assessment. First, have the child's hearing and vision tested. Perhaps they just need a hearing aid or a pair of glasses. If hearing and vision are fine, then the child should receive a learning disabilities (LD) evaluation.

Parents have a federally mandated right to request a learning disabilities evaluation for their child at the school district's expense. The most widely used model to test for a learning disability is the "discrepancy model." If your state uses this approach, your child will receive an educational evaluation, consisting of academic achievement testing, and a psychological evaluation, consisting of an IQ test. If a discrepancy exists between the results of the two evaluations, particularly if a child has a high IQ but performs poorly on the achievement tests, the child may have a learning disability.

A child who does not show an IQ/ Achievement discrepancy may still qualify for services if he or she performs poorly in one or more academic areas. Each state does things a little differently, so check with your local school district to get the details on how a child qualifies for special help and what help is available if a child does not meet the criteria for a learning disability.

An EDUCATIONAL EVALUATION may be performed by a school psychologist or by a private professional trained to test for learning disabilities.

A PSYCHOLOGICAL EVALUATION (IQ test) must be administered by a licensed psychologist.

If my child attends a private school, will I have to pay for a private learning disabilities assessment?
No, by law each school district is required to provide learning disabilities assessments for children who live within the district, even if they attend private school.

How can I request a learning disabilities assessment?
First, contact your local school and speak to the principal or Director of Special Education. Tell him or her that you would like your child to be evaluated for a learning difference.
Follow-up with a written request (be sure to keep a copy for your files). Send the request via certified mail. Within 15 days after the letter is received, you will be sent an assessment plan. After you sign and return the plan, your child should be assessed within 50 days.

Suppose the results from your child's evaluation show no learning disability--what should you do?
Reevaluate-- Ask the school for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) or have your child evaluated independently at your expense.
If the results still show no learning disability, your child will not be eligible for special education services through the public school. You might want to check into general academic help at school (e.g. remedial reading programs) or seek out a private tutor who can help your child.


For more in-depth information about the learning disabilities assessment process, visit LDOnline and check out their LD In-Depth section.

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in order to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.
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