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(3.16) What additional eligibility criteria are used by the IEP team to determine if a child has a specific learning disability?

(3.16) What additional eligibility criteria are used by the IEP team to determine if a child has a specific learning disability?

A school district using the RTI assessment model and/or the severe discrepancy  assessment process may find that a student has a specific learning disability if it finds that a student does not achieve adequately for his age or in meeting State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, even though the student received learning experiences and instruction appropriate for his age or State-approved grade level: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading fluency skills, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, and mathematics problem solving. 

The IEP team must find that:

  1. The student is not making sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the learning areas listed above based on how the student responds to scientific, research-based interventions (RTI); or
  2. The student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to his age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined, by the persons who are making the specific learning disability eligibility decision, to be relevant to deciding whether he has a specific learning disability through the use of assessments that comply with federal special education law requirements for evaluating students; AND
  3. The findings of inadequate achievement despite appropriate learning experiences and instruction and of insufficient progress in response to scientific, research-based interventions described above are not primarily the result of a visual, hearing, or motor disability; an intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage or limited English proficiency.

To make sure the underachievement described above is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the persons making the specific learning disability eligibility decision must determine that before the child was referred for special education assessment he received appropriate instruction in regular education by qualified personnel. There must be documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals which reflects formal assessment of student progress during instruction and which was provided to the student’s parents.

Finally, in determining whether a student has a specific learning disability, the school district must observe the student in his learning environment, including in the regular classroom setting.  If the child is too young to have begun school yet or has been out of school, the child must be observed by a qualified person in an age-appropriate environment.

Even if the school district uses the RTI method of assessment, it must still follow all federal and state assessment requirements.

[34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.309(a)(2)(i); 5 C.C.R. Sec. 3030(b)(10)(C).]