The University of Mississippi's Office of Student Disability Services
DOCUMENTATION GUIDELINES FOR LEARNING DISORDERS
To ensure the provision of reasonable and appropriate classroom accommodations, students requesting accommodations must provide documentation of an impairment or disorder which supports their requests. This documentation should identify a significant limitation concerning the conditions, manner or duration of time required by the student to complete or participate in a major life activity. The limitations must rise to the level of being disabling. Accommodations are provided based on the impact of a disorder, not only on the diagnosis of a disorder. In addition, documentation should identify the student's specific strengths and weaknesses and report how the student's disorder or impairment interferes with educational achievement. Appropriate and reasonable accommodations will be determined from the specific information provided and from interviews with the student.
The DSM-IV (Axis I diagnostic criteria for specific learning disorders: Reading Disorder, Mathematics Disorder, and/or Disorder of Written Expression) provides the diagnostic model that should be followed. Documentation guidelines are as follows:
1. Testing must be completed by a licensed professional who is qualified to evaluate and diagnose learning disorders. The assessment report must include the names, titles and licensure or certification number of all the evaluators. In addition, all assessment reports should be typed or printed on professional letterhead, dated and signed.
2. Testing must be CURRENT. Because reasonable accommodations are based on the current impact of a disorder or impairment, it is necessary that all testing be completed within the past three (3) years.
3. Testing must be COMPREHENSIVE. More than one assessment device should be administered for the purpose of diagnosis. All tests used must be reliable, valid, and have current normative data. In order to verify the need for accommodations, assessments must include, if applicable, the following information:
a. Ability/Aptitude Testing - Tests of ability provide a good estimate of an individual's capacity for college-level work. Some examples of acceptable instruments are the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale - Third Edition (WAIS-III) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children - Third Edition (WISC-III).
b. Achievement - Tests of achievement are often at the core of the evaluation for a learning disorder, which is defined as a failure to acquire basic academic skills that are consistent with a student's ability level. Current levels of functioning in reading, mathematics, and written language are required. Some examples of acceptable instruments include the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery - Third Edition (WJ-III); Wechsler Individual Achievement Tests (WIAT); or specific achievement tests such as the Test of Written Language - 2 (TOWL-2) and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests - Revised. The following tests are NOT comprehensive measures of achievement and therefore are not suitable for determining eligibility for accommodations: The Wide Range Achievement Test - 3 (WRAT-3); the Diagnostic Achievement Test for Adolescents, Second Edition (DATA-2) and the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT: any edition).
c. Interview - Testing should include a thorough interview in order to get the clearest possible understanding of the student's current learning problems. Information should be gathered about the student's academic history, developmental history, medical history, and current adjustment to high school/college life, if applicable, including social support and study habits.
d. Additional Assessments - In addition to the previously described assessments, we strongly recommend that a comprehensive assessment also include the following two areas:
> Attention and Concentration: Observation throughout a testing session can provide a great deal of information about a student's ability to sustain attention. However, there are a number of additional tests which can supplement understanding of a student's attentional abilities, including the Continuous Performance Test (CPT) and the Tests of Variable Attention (TOVA).
> Personality Testing: Personality tests can provide information about a student's characteristic behavior patterns, interpersonal style, and manner of responding to stress. Some examples of commonly used personality tests include the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory - II (MMPI-II) and the Beck Depression Inventory - II (BDI-II).
4. Documentation must include the student's specific diagnosis(es). Evaluations and assessment reports should clearly state the specific DSM-IV diagnosis(es) with diagnostic code(s), if applicable.
5. Documentation must include all test scores. All standard and subtest scores must be included in the assessment report. In addition, the scores must clearly indicate what was measured and how each measurement was obtained.
Recommendations for academic accommodations must be included in the assessment
report. All documentation
must include the diagnosing professional's recommendations for academic accommodations,
if any. Recommendations should include supporting rationale which links the
recommended accommodation to the functional limitations of the student.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have questions or require additional information:
of Student Disability Services
The University of Mississippi
234 Martindale Center
University, MS 38677
Fax: (662) 915-5972
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