Specific Learning Disability Process

Each local educational agency and public school academy in Michigan is required to publicly post the process used to determine the existence of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD).

Consistent with this requirement, Grand Haven Area Public Schools reports the following:

An important change has occurred in Michigan’s criteria for identifying a Specific Learning Disability (SLD). Although the definition of SLD has remained the same within the law, the identification process no longer allows the use of a significant discrepancy between IQ and achievement as the determinate of SLD services. Instead, the Grand Haven Area Public Schools Conduct evaluations that focus on obtaining information from a variety of sources to consider the presence of a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses. A critical piece of evidence is that a student’s scores fall substantially below national and state norms on a specific academic skill (basic reading, reading fluency, reading comprehension, mathematics calculation, mathematics problem solving, written expression), while most other skills are shown to be developing adequately. The language skills of listening comprehension and oral expression are also included within the rules covering SLD*. Other important factors must also be considered, including an analysis of the student’s skills in other areas. This could include academic strengths, behavior, language or cognition.

This data will also be used to provide the assurance that the pattern of strengths and weaknesses used within the SLD eligibility determination is not primarily the result of: a visual, hearing, or motor disability; a cognitive impairment; an emotional impairment; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; lack of attendance; or limited English proficiency. Additionally, the district must ensure that the underachievement is not due to a lack of adequate instruction. An analysis of progress monitoring data over time and data from state and local assessments can be used to provide assurances of this.

Federal and state laws affirm the rights of parents and educators to request an evaluation if there is a suspicion of a disability. Consultation with your child’s teacher, principal and special education personnel can provide more information on the process for creating an evaluation plan that is used for making a special education referral.

*Please refer to the Michigan State Department of Education document; “Michigan Criteria for Determining the Existence of a Specific Learning Disability” released May 2010.

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