Part 1 OSEP Policy Letter RE: Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) Lillie/Felton, (SLD Evaluations) Letter to: Office of Special Education Programs Ms. Patricia M. LillieRebecca Felton, Ph.D. Learning Disabilities Association of North Carolina, Inc. P.O. Box 3542Chapel Hill, NC 27515-3542 Digest of Inquiry May 10, 1994 In determining a child's current level of educational achievement for purposes of specific learning disability (SLD) identification, can satisfactory grades be discounted if the child receives them due to extraordinary parental or tutoring assistance received outside the school day or compensatory help received at school? May a child who has an exceptionally high I.Q. and is achieving at age level, but not ability level, be eligible for special education as specific learning disabled (SLD)? Must an evaluation to determine if a child has a specific learning disability (SLD) include testing in all seven areas listed in 34 CFR 300.541(a)(2)? Digest of Response April 5, 1995 SLD Evaluation Team May Consider Extra Learning Support in Determining Educational Achievement In determining a child's current level of educational achievement for purposes of specific learning disability (SLD) identification, it would generally be appropriate to consider information about outside or extra learning support provided to the child when determining whether a child who receives satisfactory grades is nevertheless not achieving at age-level. Such information may indicate that a child's current educational achievement reflects the service augmentation, not what the child's achievement would be without such help. Children With High I.Q.'s Not Excluded From SLD Disability Category There is no categorical exclusion for children with high IQs in Part B; therefore, if a student with a high I.Q. is not achieving at his expected performance standard for reasons other than those specified in 34 CFR 300.541(b), (the criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability (SLD)), and otherwise meets the criteria for that disability in accordance with that provision, the child can properly be identified within the meaning of that disability. Each child who is evaluated for a suspected learning disability must be measured against his own expected performance, and not against some arbitrary general standard. SLD Evaluation Must Include Testing of All Seven Areas Listed in 34 CFR 300.541(a)(2) None of the seven areas listed in 34 CFR 300.541(a)(2)(i)-(vii), the Part B regulation which establishes the criteria for determining the existence of a specific learning disability (SLD), can be categorically excluded from a multidisciplinary team's evaluation to determine whether a child has a SLD. To the contrary, each of these areas must be taken into consideration, and a state policy which requires otherwise may be suspect. Reference: 19950405 Text of Inquiry A number of problems have surfaced in recent months in North Carolina regarding the interpretation of policy from Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). To help us have clear, factual information to share with parents and professionals, the Learning Disabilities Association of North Carolina (LDANC) requests clarification of the intent of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and OSERS policy decisions in the areas identified below. We would like to have information about the legal basis for the following statements and implications for determination of eligibility for students with learning disabilities. (1) A review and comments on a letter (attached) from Robert R. Davila, Assistant Secretary of Education to Mr. Brian J. Hartman, dated August 28, 1989, especially those underlined sections which state; (a) In the second situation the students would not satisfy the Federal requirement that there be a failure to achieve commensurate with (their) age... although there was a failure to achieve commensurate with their ability levels. (b) In the case where a student's disability does not interfere with the student's ability to benefit from participation in the regular education program without supplementary aids and services, and the student is progressing from grade to grade at the same rate as his or her age peers, then that student is not entitled under the Act to special education. (c) The requirement of discrepancy from age-appropriate performance reflects a fundamental premise expressed in the Education of the Handicapped Act that children with disabilities are entitled to special education if their disability adversely impacts their ability to benefit from regular education and that there is a need for special education. (2) Clarification of what should be taken into consideration by the Multidisciplinary Team when applying Section 300.541; "a multidisciplinary team may determine that a child has a specific learning disability if the child does not achieve commensurate with his or her age and ability levels in one or more of the following areas: (i) Oral expression; (ii) Listening comprehension; (iii) Written expression; (iv) Basic reading skill; (v) Reading comprehension; (vi) Mathematics calculation; or (vii) Mathematics reasoning."