Learning Disabilities: Testing Required for Accommodation
This section outlines the psychoeducational testing required of students who seek accommodation for a specific learning disability as defined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: “…a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations” (IDEA Sec. 602).
The College recommends students present the following information to the professionals preparing their testing reports.
The student seeking accommodation for a specific learning disability must present a full, recent psychoeducational testing report to the Office of Academic Advising. The report must contain appropriate scores, interpretations, evaluations, and recommendations derived from an approved battery of tests administered by a qualified psychologist. Professionals who can diagnose learning disabilities are Clinical Psychologists, School Psychologists, Educational Psychologists, Neuropsychologists, and Psychometrists. Reports from Educational Specialists, School Counselors, Vocational Counselors, Social Workers, Speech and Language Specialists, Occupational Therapists, Psychiatrists, and Physicians do not meet our criteria for testing. For clarification about which professionals are qualified to diagnose learning disabilities, visit the LD online article Who Can Diagnose LD and/or ADHD. Normally, the tests must have been administered within four years of the request for accommodation, and results must include evidence of a specific learning disability.
The College normally recognizes a diagnosis of a specific learning disability when the following criteria are met:
- average or above average intelligence as measured by a standardized intelligence test which includes assessment of verbal and nonverbal abilities;
- the presence of a cognitive-achievement discrepancy or an intra-cognitive discrepancy indicated by a score on a standardized test of achievement which is minimally one standard deviation below the level corresponding to a student's sub-scale or full-scale IQ;
- the presence of disorders in cognitive or sensory processing such as those related to memory, language, or attention; and
- an absence of other primary causal factors leading to achievement below expectation, such as visual or auditory disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, a lack of opportunity to learn due to cultural or socioeconomic circumstances, or deficiencies in intellectual ability.
To enable the Office of Academic Advising to evaluate a request for accommodation properly, the test battery must include full intelligence testing, achievement testing and a social-emotional status assessment. The Office of Academic Advising will not accept reports of testing and diagnosis based on inadequate information (e.g., IQ testing without achievement testing or a report lacking an assessment of social-emotional status).
Specifically, Gettysburg College requires that the testing for all learning disabilities include:
1. Full intelligence testing (Wechsler Adult Intelligent Scale IV or Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities).
2. Assessment of cognitive strengths, weaknesses, and deficits in:
a) visual processing
b) auditory processing
c) memory (auditory and visual; short-term and long-term)
d) fine motor coordination and dexterity
e) verbal and nonverbal reasoning, organizational skills, and cognitive flexibility
f) attention (auditory and visual)
3. Assessment of oral language skills.
4. Full achievement testing in:
a) written language
b) reading decoding and comprehension (use of college level texts is especially helpful)
The Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Achievement--Standard Battery is preferred for assessment of these functions. Raw, scaled, standard, percentile and grade equivalence scores must be included in the report.
5. A full clinical interview and appropriate testing to assess social-emotional status, addressing the presence of anxiety and mood disorders, any other Axis I findings, and alcohol and chemical substance use patterns.
6. Diagnosis including DSM codes.
7. Summary of student's strengths and weaknesses, conclusions and recommendations for student compensations and course accommodations.
Revised April 2013