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Specific Learning Disability
What is a learning disability?
Specific learning disability means 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, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations. The term includes such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The term does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of a visual, hearing, or motor disability; intellectual disability; emotional disturbance; cultural factors; environmental or economic disadvantage; or, limited English proficiency.

[+] Read about the specific criteria used to determine eligibility in the educational category of learning disabilities.

Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education – Criteria for Eligibility in the Educational Category of Specific Learning Disability

A student has a specific learning disability when:
  1. The student does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or to meet state approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s age or state approved grade-level standards:
  2. A) Oral Expression

    B) Listening Comprehension

    C) Written Expression

    D) Basic Reading Skill

    E) Reading Fluency Skills

    F) Reading Comprehension

    G) Mathematics Calculation

    H) Mathematics Problem Solving

  3. The student does not make sufficient progress to meet age or state approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified above when using a process based on the student’s response to scientific, research-based intervention; or the student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, state approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 34 CFR 300.307-300.311. A pattern of strengths and weaknesses is defined as a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability of at least 1.5 standard deviations; and,

  4. The group determines that its findings under this section are not primarily the result of:
  5. A) A visual, hearing, or motor disability;

    B) Intellectual disability;

    C) Emotional disturbance;

    D) Cultural factors;

    E) Environmental or economic disadvantage;

    F) Limited English Proficiency;

    G) Lack of appropriate instruction in reading, including the essential components of comprehensive literacy instruction (as defined in section 2221(b)(1) of the ESEA);

    H) Lack of appropriate instruction in math; and,

  6. To ensure that underachievement in a student suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group must consider, as part of the evaluation:

A) Data that demonstrate that prior to or as part of the referral process, the student was provided appropriate instruction in regular education settings, delivered by qualified personnel, and

B) Data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessment of student progress during instruction, which was provided to the student’s parents.

PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT: If a responsible public agency uses a severe discrepancy method: A student who does not display a discrepancy of at least 1.5 standard deviations as defined above, may nonetheless be deemed to have a specific learning disability if:

  1. The student meets the other criteria of this rule; and
  2. Based upon professional judgment and review of formal and informal assessments, the evaluation team concludes that a severe discrepancy exists.

In such cases, sufficient data must be presented in the evaluation report to document the existence of a specific learning disability.

It is the policy of the state of Missouri that any agency using a Response to Intervention model for the identification of Specific Learning Disability, must have written procedures for implementation that, at a minimum, incorporate guidelines developed by the SEA which are found on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

[+] Books, journals and other publications on learning disabilities

The SSD Family & Community Resource Center (FCRC) offers books, videos and other resources on learning disabilities (PDF). Materials may be sent home through school mail to families whose children receive SSD services. Others may come into the FCRC to check out materials.
[+] Other local, state and national resources related to learning disabilities

Local Resources
Churchill Center & School
www.churchillschool.org

Miriam School/Learning Center
www.miriamstl.org

St. Louis Learning Disabilities Association (LDA)
www.ldastl.org

State Resources
Learning Disabilities Association of Missouri
https://ldaamerica.org/lda-chapters/missouri

Decoding Dyslexia Missouri
decodingdyslexia-mo.org

National Resources
International Dyslexia Association
www.interdys.org

Learning Disabilities Association of America
www.ldaamerica.org

LD Online
www.ldonline.org

National Center for Learning Disabilities
www.ncld.org

Understood
www.understood.org/en

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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