Learning Disabilities Documentation

It is the responsibility of each student who requests services from Westmont College to provide a comprehensive written evaluation of his/her learning disability.

To verify the student's eligibility, to document his/her need for reasonable accommodations and support services, this evaluation must demonstrate fulfillment of the following requirements:

A. Testing Must Be Comprehensive
It is not acceptable to administer only one test in making a diagnosis. Assessment instruments used must be those which have been normed for adults. The domains to be addressed must include, but are not limited to, the following:

1. Aptitude

  • The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III or WAIS-IV) with scaled scores and percentiles and/or the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-Revised (WJ-III): Tests of Cognitive Abilities (with standard scores and percentiles) are the preferred instruments.

2. Achievement

  • The student's current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language must be assessed under timed and untimed conditions as appropriate to corroborate underachievement in specific academic areas. Acceptable instruments include: (a) the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery: Tests Of Achievement (WJ-III) or, (b) specific achievement tests like the Nelson-Denny Reading Test, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised. (The Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT-3) is not a comprehensive measure of achievement and, therefore, is not suitable by itself. Additional formal and informal tests as well as observations may be integrated with the above assessments to assist in determining the presence of a learning disability and differentiating from co-existing disorders.

3. Information Processing

  • Specific areas of information processing (for example, short- and long-term memory, reasoning, sequential memory, auditory and visual processing, and processing speed) must be assessed. Use of subtests from the WAIS-III, WAIS-IV and/or the cognitive portion of the Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery (WJ-III) is acceptable. Additional testing such as the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-III or WMS-IV) or the Learning Efficiency Test-II, designed to assist in corroborating the existence of processing disorders as identified by the WAIS-III or WAIS-IV or the WJ-III, Tests of Cognitive Abilities is recommended.

B. Test Instruments
The test instruments used to determine eligibility must be statistically valid and reliable, and standardized with age-appropriate norms.

C. Test Score Data
Test score data must be included in the diagnostic reports to document the basis of the diagnosis. Test data must be reported in standard scores and percentiles based on national norms. Additionally, diagnosing professionals are required to report standard scores using age norms when available (as they are for the WJ-III).

D. Testing Must Be Current-within 3 previous years
It is in the student's best interest to provide recent and age-appropriate documentation, as this will enable staff to determine the functional limitations requiring reasonable accommodations and support services in the academic setting.Written reports must include the date of testing.

The appropriateness of the most current documentation will be determined by the Disability Services Director. Additional testing may be required to determine the most appropriate accommodation(s).

E. Diagnosing Professionals
The professional(s) conducting the assessment and rendering diagnoses of specific learning disabilities must be qualified to do so. Qualified professionals include licensed educational psychologists, clinical psychologists, learning disabilities specialists, and speech and language pathologists. These professionals must have expertise in learning disabilities, training in administering the tests used, and be experienced in working with adults. The diagnosing professional's name, title, signature and license number (if applicable) must be included on letterhead stationery.

F. Intake History and Presenting Concerns
A written summary of the student's educational, medical, and family histories and presenting concerns that may relate to learning disabilities must be included in the diagnostic report. This summary should demonstrate that the student's difficulties in acquiring and using various academic skills are not the result of other factors such as sensory impairment, serious emotional disturbance, cultural differences, or insufficient instruction, but, indeed, point to a lifelong history of learning difficulties.

G. Written Report
The report must describe the testing procedures, the instruments used to assess the individual, and interpretation of the test results related to the behavioral observations and intake history. The diagnosing professional is encouraged to include whether a learning disability is confirmed or ruled out.

Finally, there must be clear and specific evidence and identification of the student's learning disability. Individual learning or processing differences do not, by themselves, constitute a learning disability. The determination of a learning disability should be based on: (a) an educational history, (b) behavioral observations, and (c) clearly specified and significant intra-cognitive and cognitive-achievement relationships. To establish eligibility for accommodations under state and federal law, the documentation must show current functional limitations imposed by the learning disability in the academic setting, and evidence that the learning disability limits a major life activity.