A comprehensive assessment battery and the resulting diagnostic report include background information on the student obtained from a clinical interview, an assessment of aptitude, as well as measures of academic achievement and information processing.
A comprehensive assessment should generally adhere to the following guidelines:
Evaluation must be conducted by a qualified diagnostician
The diagnostician should have comprehensive training and direct experience in working with adult populations. Diagnosticians should describe the academic credentials and qualifications that allow them to diagnose the disability and recommend accommodations. Documentation from professionals who are blood relatives of the student cannot be accepted.
Accommodations should be based upon assessment of the current impact of disability
Documentation verifying specific learning disabilities and physical or medical disorders that could be compensated for over time must be recent.
Evaluation should be comprehensive and include the following:
- A diagnostic interview, which provides objective evidence of a substantial limitation in cognition and/or learning. For example, the written summary may include a description of presenting problem, developmental history, academic history, family history, psychosocial history, medical history (including the absence of a medical basis for the present symptoms), and discussion of dual diagnosis, alternative, or coexisting mood/behavioral/neurological/personality disorders, along with a history of relevant medication that may have an impact upon learning.
- A neuropsychological or psycho-educational evaluation, which addresses aptitude/cognitive ability, academic achievement, and information processing.
- Aptitude/Cognitive testing: Assessment will be based on a comprehensive battery that does not rely on any one test or subtest. Acceptable instruments are: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-IV), Kaufman Adolescent & Adult Intelligence, and Stanford-Binet Intelligence 5th Edition (SB-V)
- Achievement: Acceptable measures include the Woodcock-Johnson III: Tests of Achievement, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT), Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA), Stanford Test of Academic Skills (Task).
- Supplemental tests such as Nelson-Denny Reading Test, Test of Written Language-3, Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test, and Woodcock Reading Mastery Test-Revised are useful to interpret along with other diagnostic information.
- Information Processing: All relevant areas of information processing should be assessed including short and long-term memory, auditory and visual processsing, processing speed, executive functioning, motor ability. Acceptable measures include, but are not limited to: Woodcock-Johnson III: Tests of Cognitive Ability, Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-3, Wechsler Memory Scales-IV (WMS-IV)
- A measure of attention must be provided to support the diagnosis of ADHD. Acceptable measures of attention include standardized measures. Acceptable measures include Tests of Variable attention, Continuous Performance Test II Version 5, BRIEF, BASC-2, Brown ADD scales.
Test scores must be provided
Standard scores must be provided for all normed measures. There must be evidence of intra-individual differences in cognitive/achievement and in information processing that demonstrates a substantial limitation for which an accommodation is recommended. The particular profile of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses must be shown to relate to functional limitations that necessitate the recommended accommodations. All tests used in assessment must be reliable, valid, and standardized for use with an adult population. Test findings must document both the nature and severity of the disability. Informal inventories, surveys, and direct observation may be used in tandem with formal tests to further develop a diagnosis and support accommodation requests.
Report of assessment must include a diagnosis
"Learning styles," "learning differences," and "academic problems" are not cognitive disabilities for which accommodations will be granted. A diagnosis must be supported by test data, academic history, anecdotal and clinical observations which may include comments about the student’s level of motivation, study skills, and other non-cognitive factors. Findings must demonstrate that the functional limitations are due to the diagnosed disability. The diagnostician will also be expected to rule out alternative explanations for problems in learning such as emotional or attentional problems that may interfere with learning, but do not, in and of themselves, constitute a disability in learning.
Report of assessment must recommend specific accommodation(s)
The diagnostician must include a detailed explanation as to why each recommended accommodation is necessary. Such requests must reference test results or clinical observations that support the need for accommodation.