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SLD Considerations for Learners Who Are CLD. April 2011 Exceptional Student Leadership Unit. Learning Outcome. To increase understanding and skills related to the evaluation process of learners who are CLD and are suspected of having a specific learning disability.

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SLD Considerations for Learners Who Are CLD

April 2011

Exceptional Student Leadership Unit

Learning Outcome

To increase understanding and skills related to the evaluation process of learners who are CLD and are suspected of having a specific learning disability.

RtI Process and Referral for Evaluation

Early Intervening Services with Students who are CLD

For students who are CLD, it is essential to have input from a professional with expertise in typical communication development, including second language acquisition, to differentiate cultural-linguistic differences from disorder.

Key Question: How long should interventions, as part of the RtI process, be provided?

Length of time is dependent upon several factors:

  • age of the student

  • skill involved

  • severity of deficit(s)

  • student’s response to intervention provided

Key Question: Who initiates a referral for special education evaluation and when should a referral be made?

The following slides describe

three referral scenarios.

Referral of student (receiving intervention) by the RtI problem-solving team:

  • Initiated at any time for a student suspected of having a disability

  • Evidence of significant skill deficit AND

  • Evidence of insufficient progress when provided research-based intervention

  • Apparent need for ongoing specialized instruction and support

  • Consideration of answers to guiding questions (see SLD Topic Brief: RtI & Referral for Evaluation)

Caution should be taken not to delay a referral for special education evaluation beyond the point when the team should be suspecting a disability. RtI problem-solving and the provision of interventions do not replace the right of a child with a disability to be identified as such and to receive special education and related services.

<see the OSEP memo dated Jan 21, 2011>

Referral of student by parent:

  • Parent has right to request an evaluation at any time

  • Administrative Unit (Administrative Unit: District or BOCES) may…

    • Agree with parent that the child may be a child with a disability

      • Develop an evaluation plan with input from parent

      • Issue a Prior Written Notice (PWN) & Consent to Evaluate

      • Complete the evaluation within 60 days* of receiving consent

* The 60-day timeline for completion of the evaluation must be adhered to unless extended by mutual written agreement.

  • Referral of student by parent (continued):

    • Disagree that an evaluation is warranted

      • Issue PWN addressing why it has been determined an evaluation is not indicated

      • Parent can challenge by requesting a due process hearing

* The 60-day timeline for completion of the evaluation must be adhered to unless extended by mutual written agreement.

Referral of student not receiving intervention (via RtI process) and AU proposes and/or agrees to proceed with the evaluation

  • Criteria for eligibility in category of SLD do not change

  • Research-based intervention in area(s) of concern initiated and progress monitored

  • Evaluation process and RtI process are initiated simultaneously

  • Parents are members of both the RtI problem-solving team and the multi-disciplinary eligibility team (membership may overlap)

  • 60-day timeline* for completing evaluation is in effect

* The 60-day timeline for completion of the evaluation must be adhered to unless extended by mutual written agreement.

Evaluation & Assessment

Full and Individual Evaluation

  • More focused than when conducted a “comprehensive evaluation”

  • Child assessed in all areas related to suspected disability

  • Must identify all child’s special education needs (whether or not commonly linked to primary disability)


The preamble to the Federal Regulations expresses…

“Support for models that focus on assessments that are related to instruction and promote intervention for identified children…”

Federal Register p. 46647

Review of Assessment Purposes/Types

Universal Screening/Benchmarking

(at grade level)

  • Brief assessments of key skills

  • Comparison to established benchmarks

  • Identification of students at-risk

Progress Monitoring

(typically at instructional level)

  • Frequent measures of skill attainment

  • Measurements are sensitive to incremental growth

  • Provides evidence of sufficiency of growth (e.g., evidence of “insufficient progress in response to scientific, research-based intervention”)

Diagnostic/Prescriptive Assessment

  • Focused to identify specific skills needing improvement (within area of concern)

  • Typically norm-referenced & individually administered

  • Informs specific instruction or intervention for an individual student

  • Adds to evidence of performance level (e.g., evidence of “academic skill deficit” for eligibility determination)

Evaluation Plan Development

Review existing evaluation data on the child, including…

  • Evaluations and information provided by the parents

  • Relevant medical findings

  • Current classroom-based, local, or State assessments, and

  • Classroom-based observations

    On the basis of that review, and input from the child’s parents, identify what additional data, if any, are needed.

Key Questions in Planning an EvaluationWhat is known?

What are the concerns and who has them?

How does each concern affect academic progress?

What evidence is available specific to each concern?

Key Questions in Planning an EvaluationWhat additional information/data are needed?

What are the specific assessment tools or strategies that should be employed?

Who will be responsible?

Building a Body of Evidence: A “variety of assessment tools and strategies” (during RtI and evaluation) may include…

  • Interviews (family, classroom)

  • Observations in relevant settings (home, classroom)

  • Analysis of work samples

  • Performance of informal tasks

  • Curriculum Based Measurements and/or

  • Other progress monitoring strategies

(Required at some point for SLD determination)

Building a Body of Evidence: A “variety of assessment tools and strategies” (during RtI and evaluation) may include…

  • Results from state and district assessments

  • Functional Behavior Assessment

  • Behavior Rating Scales

  • Vocational assessments

  • Norm-referenced assessment (focused, not full battery for every child referred)

(Required at some point for SLD determination)

Convergence of Data

SLD identification should be based on a convergence/triangulation of data gathered throughout the RtI process as well as any further assessment data collected as part of the evaluation.

Guiding Questions

  • What evidence is there that the student has deficits in both languages and across various settings?

  • Is it possible that deficits exhibited by the student are accounted for by limited experiences in using the language?

  • How does the level of proficiency in English impact instruction?

Guiding Questions

  • Is the student demonstrating sufficient rate of progress in the skill in question as compared to their peers of similar background and culture?

  • Has there been sufficient multi-tiered systems of support given to help the student access the curriculum?

Possible Identifiers

  • The student’s rate of progress is below the expected rate for LEP students.

  • The students academic skills are significantly delayed.

Possible Indicators

  • The parent regard the student as “different: or delayed.

  • The student does not exhibit mastery of academics at their language and developmental level even after carefully planned and administered targeted interventions.

Quality Assessments Should

  • Assess the student’s current level and mode of functioning within the scope of their cultural background and experiences

  • Identify educational needs rather than focus on perceived or inferred intellectual deficits

  • Focus on learning assets and strengths as the basis for new learning

  • Be on-going or dynamic

Evaluation Report

  • Includes information from a body of evidence

  • The data are accurately interpreted in the report

  • The data are triangulated and conclusions are clearly stated

Evaluation Report

Directly and explicitly address performance in relation to the identified concerns, questions and priorities

Identify characteristics the student demonstrates that are or are not consistent with special education eligibility criteria

Evaluation Report

  • Documents the sources of information and assessment methods used

  • Includes dates the assessments were completed and by whom

Evaluation Report Checklist

Does it provide meaningful and understandable information to parents and others who do not have your background and training?

Does it directly and explicitly address the initial questions and concerns?

Does it discuss a pattern of strengths, interests, and weaknesses so that a meaningful plan can be developed?

Triennial Reevaluation and Continued Eligibility

Key Questions:How might a Triennial Reevaluation be conducted for a student initially identified under the previous SLD criteria? How is a determination of continued eligibility made and documented?

States that change their eligibility criteria for SLD may want to carefully consider the reevaluation of children found eligible for special education services using prior procedures. States should consider the effect of exiting a child from special education who has received special education and related services for many years and how the removal of such supports will affect the child’s educational progress, particularly for a child who is in the final year(s) of high school. Obviously, the group should consider whether the child’s instructional and overall special education program have been appropriate as part of this process. If the special education instruction has been appropriate and the child has not been able to exit special education, this would be strong evidence that the child’s eligibility needs to be maintained.

- Federal Register, p. 46648 (from preamble to the Regulations, response to comments)

Triennial Reevaluations: Important Elements & Considerations

  • Parents participate as team members

  • Existing data reviewed to determine additional data needed, if any

  • Reevaluation plan developed and communicated via PWN; consent to evaluate obtained

  • Not necessary to reestablish disability – presumption of disability unless data indicate otherwise

Triennial Reevaluations: Important Elements & Considerations

  • Continued eligibility might be based on knowledge of…

    • Evidence that child is still a child with a disability (e.g., academic skill deficits and insufficient progress)

    • Need for special education and related services (appropriateness of current services provided)

  • Documentation of “continued eligibility” (not necessarily completion of eligibility form)

Focus is on…

  • Evidence of continued need for special education (student’s inability to benefit from general education without specialized instruction and supports )

  • Confirmation/identification of special education needs

  • Determination of needed changes to the IEP

Three Triennial Evaluation Scenarios

  • Reevaluation that includes the collection of additional evaluation data (probably most typical)

  • Agreement between the parent and the public agency that a reevaluation is unnecessary (rare)

    • should be rare that no reevaluation occurs

    • any such agreement should be documented in writing

(would seem important for some level of reevaluation in order to identify all the child’s special education and related services needs, even if continued eligibility is not being questioned)

Triennial Evaluation Scenarios (cont.)

  • Reevaluation with “no additional evaluation data needed”

  • More common than determining that reevaluation is unnecessary

  • Even without further assessment, consists of…the review and interpretation of existing student data and the consideration/determination of continued eligibility and/or determination of the special education needs and services

  • Related Issue: documentation of evidence of disability & accommodations needed for a student who will be transitioning from high school to college

  • [This does not mean that a school must administer specific assessments or a full battery of assessments.]

  • Such documentation could be part of: (re)evaluation report, present levels of academic achievement and functional performance on the student’s final IEP, or the Summary of Performance document required at graduation.

    • See resource document, “High School to College Transition for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities: Best Practices Documentation Guidelines for Secondary Educators,” available at

    • (under heading: Postsecondary Education Resources)

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