Identifying students who have SLD and are eligible for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be a complicated process. On this website, you’ll find resources and information to help you navigate that process and improve policies and practices—whether for your own child or for those you serve.

8 Principles to Guide the Evaluation Process 

Working together, 11 national organizations developed Eligibility for Special Education Under a Specific Learning Disability Classification. This resource lays out the critical elements of a quality evaluation process when SLD is suspected. Using these principles, you can compare your current practices and determine areas that might need improvement.

Partner Organizations for SLD Classification

Principles for SLD Eligibility: Practice & Policy Considerations for States and School Districts

Using the joint principles (above) as the foundation, the following organizations partnered to develop more robust resources on three of the principles. 

States and districts play important roles in setting up the infrastructure necessary for high-quality identification practices. These resources highlight policy and practice considerations that can support the implementation of these joint principles and encourage districts to move toward high-quality identification and evaluation processes.

Additional Partner Resources

The content in the following resources is solely the responsibility and product of their authors or issuing organizations and does not necessarily represent the official views of the any of the partner organizations. Unlike the Joint Principles, these resources cannot be assumed to have the endorsement of all partner organizations.

NCLD White paper: Evaluation for Specific Learning Disabilities: Allowable Methods of Identification & Their Implications

Meghan Whittaker (NCLD) and Matthew Burns, Ph.D. (University of Missouri)

This paper aims to provide parents, educators, and school professionals, and policymakers with a common language and shared understanding of terms related to data-based problem solving approaches to improve practice and better serve all students. 

NCLD White paper: What a Specific Learning Disability Is Not: Examining Exclusionary Factors

Meghan Whittaker (NCLD) and Samuel Ortiz, Ph.D. (St. John’s University)

This paper explores of the exclusionary criteria that exist in federal law to ensure that schools consider the primary cause of learning challenges before a child may be determined to be eligible for special education due to a specific learning disability. It also describes the implementation challenges facing the field related to these factors. 

NCLD White paper: Data-Based Problem Solving: Effective Implementation of MTSS, RTI, and PBIS

Meghan Whittaker (NCLD) and George Batsche, Ed.D. (University of South Florida)

This paper examines the history of the federally permissible methods to determine eligibility for special education due to a specific learning disability. It describes advantages, challenges, and research related to the evaluation frameworks and highlights selected state practices to demonstrate the variability in eligibility methods across the country. 

Texas Center for Learning Disabilities: The Identification of Specific Learning Disabilities: A Summary of Research on Best Practices

Texas Center for Learning Disabilities. Jack Fletcher, Ph.D. (University of Houston) and Jeremy Miciak, Ph.D. (University of Houston)

This report reviews research on the identification of SLD and best practices for SLD identification.

NASP Position Statement: Identification of Students With Specific Learning Disabilities

National Association of School Psychologists

This resource is a statement of general agreement to guide the identification of students with specific learning disabilities. 

LDA Core Principles: What Are Learning Disabilities? 

Learning Disabilities Association of America

LDA articulates its core principles for the construct of a learning disability. 

LDA Core Principles: Evaluation and Identification of Learning Disabilities

Learning Disabilities Association of America

LDA articulates its core principles for the evaluation and identification of learning disabilities.

ASHA: Written Language Practice Portal 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

This resource offers information on prevalence, intervention, assessment, and service delivery considerations for individuals with written language disorders.

ASHA: Spoken Language Practice Portal 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

This resource offers information on prevalence, intervention, assessment, and service delivery considerations for individuals with spoken language disorders.

NJCLD: LD Online Portal

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities This site contains resources published in association with the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities.

Meet the NCLD Team

Carrying out the NCLD mission to improve outcomes for the 1 in 5 individuals with learning and attention issues.

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Young Adults Initiatives

Help empower and advocate for young adults ages 18–26 with learning disabilities and attention issues.

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