State special education eligibility criteria have not been affected by the Larry P. court ruling. The single eligibility area affected most by the Larry P. decision is specific learning disability.
Before 2004, school districts used the “discrepancy model” to determine whether a student had a learning disability. Under this model, a student had to have a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in academic areas. Student ability was traditionally measured by standardized IQ tests. The Larry P. case, however, prevented the use of these tests, and districts were required to use alternative methods. Under current law, states cannot require districts to use the discrepancy model and must permit the use of a child’s “response to scientific, research-based intervention” (RTI). Those districts that choose to continue the discrepancy model may do so, but must use alternative tests to measure intellectual ability. See Chapter 3, Information on Eligibility.