How to Identify Students with Learning Disabilities

Students sitting in their seats in the classroom with their hands raised while the teacher is thinking How to Identify Students with Learning Disabilities.

You know your child is struggling with their schoolwork, but how do you know it is a learning disability? An essential aspect of the educational system is identifying students with learning disabilities and making accommodations.

However, identifying specific learning disabilities is a strenuous task and requires many different assessments.


How to Identify Students with Learning Disabilities 


Interestingly, many students in the educational system suffer from a learning disability in a specific area. However, not all learning difficulties are learning disabilities. 

Sadly, English language learners and children who suffer from behavioral problems get marked as learning disabled. Luckily, the school system uses a variety of methods to identify the students who need the accommodations. 

For a child to be diagnosed with a learning disability, they must meet specific criteria. 

Specific Criteria Includes: 

  • Developmental speech disorder
  • Academics skill disorder
  • Certain coordination difficulties

Assessment Process


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There are multiple different types of learning disabilities that vary in severity. This contributes to the difficulty of diagnosing the disability accurately. Interestingly, children may even have more than one disability, which creates a very individual disability for that specific student. 

This means that every student should be treated as a unique individual. However, this individuality complicates the assessment process of identifying learning disabilities. 


Important Role of Tests


The Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act has requirements that the assessment process should meet and the role the assessment should play. The IEP determines if the scores and other tests meet the criteria and determine the diagnosis. 

The test cannot be the sole criteria for determining if the child has a learning disability. Each test has to have a specific purpose and be administered in the child’s native language. 


Types of Tests to Identify Students with Learning Disabilities


Many different types of tests are used to determine if a child has a learning disability. Here are few examples of tests: 

  • Records review
  • Developmental and social history
  • Intelligence tests
  • Adaptive behavior assessments


Aptitude and Achievement Tests 


Depending on the disability that is suspected, the schools may use a variety of tests including, aptitude and achievement tests. Typically, achievement tests measure the students’ progress toward academic achievement, and aptitude tests measure their ability.  

The examiner may give an aptitude test by asking a student questions one on one. This can be a verbal or written test.  

However, the examiner may give the test to a group of students. But giving the test one on one is more beneficial. For example, the examiner can control the student’s motivation and observe the disabling behaviors that influence the scoring. 

Along with the aptitude test, the examiner can give achievement tests on an individual basis. Using an achievement test can determine the student’s skill in any given area. 


How Educational Reform Has Helped Students with Learning Disabilities


With each new presidential administration came new attempts at educational reform. During The Bush administration, they developed the No Child Left Behind Act, which holds every student to the same standards. 

However, with every student included and many children receiving services under IDEA, teachers are trying to find better ways to help learning disabled students. 

Teachers are assisting their students by including all necessary information in the students’ IEP that is individually and tailored to their specific needs. 

Holding all students to the same standards means that students with learning disabilities must complete standardized testing and the implications that follow if they fail to pass the tests. 

Accommodations are essential, but unfortunately, also complex. Currently, many states are looking for ways to accommodate students with learning disabilities. 

Additional Resources for Students with Learning Disabilities

There are many different tests to determine if a student is eligible for special education services. The key to determining this information is using various reliable tests and will give the same results if administered to many different students.

Students with learning disabilities deserve the accommodations they need to be successful in school. Let us help with the process! 


Key Resources for Parents: 


Do you have a child that needs more one on one assistance?  

We offer one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere the student is! Why? Because our special education experts conduct their sessions online!

Get started with a free consultation today!


Students sitting in their seats in the classroom with their hands raised while the teacher is thinking How to Identify Students with Learning Disabilities.
Your child is struggling with schoolwork but is it a learning disability? Here is how to identify students with learning disabilities…

Laura Young, M.Ed.

Laura Young, M.Ed.

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