Department provides guidance on learning disability eligibility determinations

The Maine DOE is committed to ensuring the effective and timely identification of learners with special needs. When Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams are considering eligibility of a student under the disability category “Specific Learning Disability,” they may find that some students present with cultural, linguistic or physical characteristics that place them outside the cohort on which standardized measures are normed.

As described in Maine’s Unified Special Education Regulations §VII.2.L(2)(a)(iv), if measures with norms for the child’s cultural and linguistic background, physical disability or other contributing factors are unavailable, then the IEP team should replace determinations of a processing disorder and standardized measure of cognitive functioning with a multi-tiered problem-solving approach such as analysis of work samples and other performance data to demonstrate the likelihood of a learning disability.

Sections A.1 and 2 of the Learning Disability Evaluation Report should be marked “N/A,” with an explanation of why group-normed assessments are not applicable to the student given in the “Verify Scores” spaces. Analysis of the student’s work samples and performance data should be detailed in the verification spaces for Sections A.3 and 4. Note that the “appropriate assessments” referenced in Section 4(b) may include informal classroom assessments. As with all other students, both Section A.3 and either Section A.4(a) or (b) must be marked “Yes” in order for the student to qualify for special education as a student with a learning disability.

For more information or if you have questions concerning eligibility for students with special needs, please contact Maine DOE’s Director of Special Services Janice Breton at  janice.breton@maine.gov or 624-6676.