Specific Learning Disability

Updated: March 11, 2011 (PDF)

Professionals diagnosing a Learning Disability (LD) must have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience with adolescents and adults with LD. The following professionals are considered qualified: certified/licensed psychologists, neuropsychologists, LD specialists, and educational therapists.

Documentation must include:

  1. The results of comprehensive assessment. The tests need to be those which have been normed for adults so that the report covers the four following areas:
    1. Aptitude: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV).
    2. Achievement: Current levels of functioning in reading and written language are required. The Woodcock Johnson Tests of Achievement-III (WJ-III) are required. The following achievement tests may be used as supporting assessment information: Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test, Tests of Academic Skills (TASK), Tests of Written Language-4 (TOWL-4), Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised, and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-III (WIAT-III). Please note: Each measure is not adequate alone.
    3. Information Processing: Assessment of long and short term memory, sequential memory, auditory discrimination and perception, visual perception, spatial orientation and relations and processing speed must be included in the testing. Use of subtests from the WAIS-IV, WJ-III or the WMS-IV, are acceptable means of providing this information.
    4. Evaluation: Evaluation, summary, and recommendations by the person(s) administering or evaluating the testing is required. As a professional report for other professionals to evaluate, the report must include the following: a clear statement of the learning disability, using DSM-5 criteria and the reasoning for this particular diagnosis as supported by the current diagnostic battery. (Descriptive terms such as a student’s individual “learning style,” “learning deficit,” and “learning differences,” do not, in and of themselves, constitute the definition of a disability). Alternative explanations for the academic problems should be examined and ruled out. The recommended accommodations should be appropriate at the postsecondary level and specific test results must support these recommendations.
  2. All of the test scores from the assessment, especially the standard scores and percentiles.
  3. A recent and/or updated report based on adult norms. Since accommodations are based on the current impact of the disability to the student, documentation must be up to date and based on adult norms (age 18 and older). For students under 18, documentation must be current (no more than 3 years old).
  4. The printed name, signature, title, professional credentials/license number, address, phone number and fax number of each evaluator involved as well as the date(s) of testing/evaluation, all on official letterhead.

All documentation is confidential and should be submitted to:

Disability Services and Programs
University of Southern California
3601 Watt Way, GFS 120
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1692
(213) 740-0776
(213) 740-8216 Fax