3.11 Students With Learning Disorders
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The USG is committed to providing equal educational opportunities to all students. USG institutions offer students with disabilities a variety of services and accommodations to ensure that both facilities and programs are accessible. The information provided on working with students with disabilities is an overview of the resources available and the policies and procedures in place that are intended to facilitate accessibility and academic success.
All institutions of the USG shall adopt the common criteria for documenting disabilities and employ a common methodology for providing services to students with diagnosed disabilities.
3.11.1 Regents’ Centers for Learning Disorders
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Last reviewed: January 2010
Learning Disorders include Learning Disabilities, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Acquired Brain Injury, and Psychological Disorders as described in Appendix E. The Board of Regents of the USG has established the following three centers for the provision of assessment, resources, and research related to students who have learning disorders that impact academic, cognitive and/or behavioral/emotional functioning.
- Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia Southern University
- Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia State University
- Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders at The University of Georgia
Each Regents’ Center for Learning Disorders (RCLD) is responsible for serving designated colleges and universities (referring institutions) within a geographic region. The host institution serves as fiscal agent for each RCLD. See Appendix F for a list of RCLDs and their assigned institutions.
Purpose of the RCLDs
The RCLDs provide the following services:
- Comprehensive standardized assessments for students with learning disorders
- Review of documentation submitted by referring institutions in support of student requests for accommodations
- Recommendations regarding appropriate accommodations and services
- Assistance to students, faculty and staff at referring institutions through consultation, networking, and program development
- Clinical training opportunities in graduate level psychology, education, and related programs
- Research focusing on assessment and accommodation of students with disabilities in postsecondary settings
In addition to their primary mission of serving students enrolled in USG institutions, the Centers may be authorized to serve other groups of students. Current information on the availability of services for non-USG students can be obtained by contacting each RCLD directly.
The RCLDs consist of professionals who are specialists in the assessment of adults and in evaluation of disabilities that impair learning. Each RCLD has, at the minimum, the following personnel:
Director. The director is responsible for overseeing the daily operation of the RCLD and for carrying out USG policy regarding student disabilities. The Academic Vice President of the host institution is the supervisor of record.
Psychologist. The licensed psychologist oversees the evaluation process, including training, interviewing, scheduling, testing, staffing, and report writing. The psychologist ensures that the professional and ethical standards of the American Psychological Association are followed.
Liaison. The liaison promotes and maintains contact between the referring institutions and each RCLD, assists in the referral and feedback process for RCLD evaluations and RCLD review of documentation of disability, assists referring institutions in the development of policies and procedures to serve students with disabilities on their campuses, and provides community outreach and education to support the mission of the RCLD.
Other qualified personnel are involved directly in interviewing, testing, and writing reports for students who are evaluated in the RCLDs.
USG Accommodations for Students With Learning Disorders
In order to assure consistency throughout the USG, all RCLDs use the same general evaluation procedures, test battery and report format. This common evaluation methodology assures that all USG institutions employ the same definition and evaluation model.
Evaluations performed by external professionals or organizations will be reviewed using the same methodology as if the evaluation was conducted by an RCLD.
Some accommodations for USG requirements must be approved by an RCLD. Students with learning disorders, who are requesting the accommodations outlined below, are required to submit documentation to an RCLD for approval:
Admissions - Substitution of the RHSC foreign language requirement. See Section 3.11.3, Admission Considerations.
Regents’ Tests accommodations, beyond what can be granted with institutional approval. See Section 3.11.4, Regents’ Test Administration.
Learning Support - Testing accommodations for the Collegiate Placement Examination (CPE), or COMPASS modifications or, additional semesters in Learning Support beyond what can be granted with institutional approval. See Section 3.11.5, Learning Support Considerations.
Substitution of core curriculum Quantitative Outcomes requirement (Learning Goal A2, 3 semester hours required) – See Section 3.11.6 Core Mathematics Course Substitutions
Each USG institution is responsible for providing approved accommodations or modifications, including assistive technologies. The Director of the Regents’ Testing Office, the RCLDs, and the AMAC Accessibility Solutions & Research Center are available to assist institutions with arranging for these accommodations.
Referring institutions must have institutional policies and procedures for reviewing documentation of disabilities that is not based on an evaluation conducted by an RCLD. Institutional policies and procedures must be consistent with BoR policy.
Referring institutions are required to submit documentation of learning disorders to meet USG requirements to an RCLD when a student requests accommodations. Referring institutions may also elect to send outside documentation for review to the appropriate RCLD under other circumstances.
Referral for Evaluations
Referring institutions are required to submit a referral packet containing the following items to the appropriate RCLD to initiate the evaluation process:
- Information letter and checklist completed by the Disability Service Provider (DSP)
- Questionnaire on academic strengths and weaknesses, historical information, and behaviors that can affect learning (completed by the student)
- Questionnaire on student’s functioning ability (completed by a person who knows the student well and can provide an independent view)
- Academic transcripts from current and/or previous institutions
- Recent vision and hearing sensory screenings
- Samples of written work
- Copies of previous medical or psychological evaluations related to learning difficulties
The DSP at the referring institution is responsible for coordinating the completion of the referral packet and communicating with the RCLD regarding the student’s referral, evaluation, and accommodations. See Appendix G for the referral process flowchart. For more information regarding disability documentation, see Appendices D and E.
Professional Standards and Confidentiality
- American Psychological Association ethical standards are upheld.
- Information gathered before, during, and after an evaluation will be kept strictly confidential.
- Information will not be released to any person or institution without written permission of the student.
- The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provide additional guidelines on right of access and disclosure of protected information.
- Neither the referring institutions nor the RCLDs are liable for students while they are traveling to and from the RCLDs for the evaluation.
- A contact person at the referring institution must be designated for emergency purposes while the student is on the RCLD campus.
- RCLDs require liability insurance coverage for all RCLD personnel involved in the evaluation process. This liability coverage is necessary to meet the standards of professional practice as outlined in State Licensing Law.
Cost of Evaluations
- Students are assessed a $500 fee for each evaluation (subject to annual review).
- Payment schedules may vary across RCLDs.
- Evaluation scholarships may be available at individual RCLDs and/or referring institutions.
- Students may contact their local Georgia Department of Labor, Rehabilitation Services to determine if they qualify for services, which may include funding to offset evaluation costs.
Students wishing to dispute a decision of an RCLD with regard to eligibility for accommodations may appeal by submitting a request for independent review of their documentation by the directors of the other two RCLDs.
The request must meet the following conditions:
- Specify the issue(s) of disagreement in writing
- Be submitted to the DSP at the student’s home institution
- Be initiated within 30 days of receiving the disputed decision
A student wishing to appeal the decision of the independent review may appeal to the President of the home institution. The President’s decision is final. The Board of Regents does not hear appeals for eligibility for accommodation.
3.11.2 AMAC Accessibility Solutions & Research Center
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The AMAC Accessibility Solutions & Research Center, an initiative of the USG, is committed to removing barriers and providing access to knowledge for individuals with physical, sensory, and learning print-related disabilities. AMAC serves individuals with print-related disabilities in a variety of ways.
AMAC works with all USG institutions serving postsecondary students as well as high school students transitioning to postsecondary institutions. AMAC offers a variety of services to meet the individual needs of students with print-related disabilities and the institutions serving them, including access to the following:
- Alternative media production
- Electronic files (e-files) requested from publishers
- High quality scanned image files
- E-text formatting services
- NEON, AMAC’s online repository of available alternative media that tracks students, orders, and media production
- Assistive technology software and hardware
- Other national repositories, services and products (e.g., Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic)
- Password protected electronic material delivery service
- Monthly student services reports
- Training and technical assistance
- Braille text conversion or contract services. AMAC specializes in math, science, foreign language Braille transcription services.
AMAC services and costs vary depending on membership status. AMAC services help institutions to:
Protect themselves against copyright infringement laws
Comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and provide students with print-related disabilities equal and timely access to materials
Increase the knowledge of institutional information technology departments, faculty, and staff on accessible digital media and accessible information technology through the incorporation of universal design for learning environments
AMAC is not a replacement for disability services, but a resource that offers expertise in alternative media production and assistive technology software and hardware. The AMAC team works closely with disability service providers and students to ensure that they receive high quality and timely services.
3.11.3 Admissions Considerations
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Applicants with disabilities are expected to have completed the Required High School Curriculum (RHSC) with the appropriate instructional accommodations. No exemptions or substitution are permitted for these required courses with the exception of the foreign language requirement.
Students who are unable to complete the RHSC foreign language requirement successfully due to a documented disability may petition for a substitution for the foreign language requirement (see Appendix H, Admissions Consideration Flowchart) using the following guidelines:
Foreign Language Requirement
Two years of a single foreign language or two years of American Sign Language is required for admission to USG colleges and universities. To receive permission for a substitution, students should do the following:
- Notify the Office of Admission at the time of application that they are petitioning for a RHSC foreign language substitution
- Contact the DSP at the institution for assistance in completing the petition.
- Submit their petition documentation with the admission application
If the petition is approved, the student will be allowed to satisfy the RHSC foreign language requirement by substituting another type of course. The approval of a petition for substitution does not waive the requirement.
Approval of a petition for a course substitution for the RHSC foreign language requirement does not extend to the foreign language requirements of certain degree programs at the University level. Students must submit a separate petition, following their institution’s standard procedures for modifications to program requirements, to request a course substitution for foreign language coursework required for a specific program of study or degree.
Students with disabilities will not be penalized for taking standardized admissions tests (e.g. ACT, SAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT) with accommodations. Students seeking disability accommodation should contact the testing agencies (College Board and ACT).
To be considered for admission, students are expected to achieve the institution’s admission requirements, including minimum SAT or ACT scores with the testing accommodations.
3.11.4 Regents’ Test Administration
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The Regents’ Testing requirement for reading and writing skills courses may not be waived for students with disabilities, but appropriate accommodations will be provided. The Regents’ Testing Program Office does not have to be informed when a student takes or passes an alternative test. However, the student record system must indicate that alternative procedures have been used.
Accommodations for students with learning disorders that can be granted with institutional approval are outlined in Section 2.8.10, Special Administrations of the Regents’ Test.
For more information regarding special administration of the Regents’ Tests for students with disabilities as described in Appendix E, see Section 2.8.10, Special Administrations of the Regents’ Test.
3.11.5 Learning Support Considerations
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Students with documented disabilities, who are required to enroll in Learning Support, must fulfill all stated requirements, including placement test and course requirements. Students will be provided with appropriate test and/or course accommodations. Documentation of accommodations provided must be maintained at the institution and summarized in the annual report on accommodations. See Section 2.9.1, Administrative Procedures for Learning Support Programs. Accommodations for students with learning disorders that can be granted with institutional approval are limited to the following:
- Extended time on placement tests
- Authorized use of a calculator for mathematic testing
- Separate test administration
- Maximum of two additional semesters of Learning Support at the Foundations level
Accommodations and test administrations other than those listed above must be approved by an RCLD.
3.11.6 Core Mathematics Course Substitutions
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As a part of the core curriculum, all USG students are required to complete three hours of coursework that address learning outcomes in quantitative reasoning (i.e., core mathematics requirement; Learning Goal A2: Quantitative Outcomes)
Students who are unable to complete this core mathematics requirement as a result of a documented disability must still complete the core curriculum but may petition for a substitution of the requirement.
To be eligible for a core mathematics substitution, it must be determined that (1) a student has a disability currently impacting his or her mathematics skill that precludes the potential for academic success despite reasonable accommodations and good faith effort and (2) substitution of the core curriculum mathematics course will not result in a fundamental alteration of the nature of the student’s major/program of study.
Eligibility determinations will follow the procedure as outlined below.
The student will submit petition materials to the disability services office of the student’s home institution. The materials should minimally include the following:
- a formal written request for a mathematics core course substitution,
- documentation of a disability that substantially limits mathematics skills relative to most people in the general population as determined by a qualified professional,
- secondary and postsecondary transcripts documenting prior mathematics coursework, and
- a signed consent form authorizing release of the documentation to the reviewing parties.
The disability service provider will submit the request and associated documentation to the RCLD serving the institution.
A USG-level committee composed of the directors of the three RCLDs will determine if the provided documentation is sufficient to justify a substitution. Documentation should meet guidelines as specified in Appendix D: Disability Documentation and Appendix E: Specific Documentation Guidelines. The committee may seek additional information from the student to aid their determination.
If a request is made within a reasonable time after the start of the semester (to be determined by the institution), a decision on the student’s request should be completed within a timely manner such that the student can make informed registration decisions for the next semester.
Should the student be deemed eligible for a substitution, an institution-level committee will determine if the core mathematics requirement represents an essential component of the student’s major/program of study. The committee should, at minimum, include designees from the office of disability services, the department of mathematics, the petitioning student’s school or college (e.g., the student’s academic advisor), and the institution’s committee charged with providing oversight of the general education curriculum.
If the student is found to be pursuing a major/program of study for which mathematics is not considered an essential component, the institution-level committee will identify a substitute course best suited to the student’s major/program of study.
Each institution shall develop policies and procedures detailing the institution-level committee composition; committee responsibilities; title of the final decision-making authority; methods of communication between the committee, the final decision-making authority, and the student; time frames for the completion of each step; and an appeals process.
The approval of a petition for substitution does not waive the requirement. If the student changes major/program of study, the substitution may be re-evaluated. Approval of a petition for a course substitution for the core mathematics requirement does not extend to any Learning Support requirements a student must complete.
Further, approval of a petition for a course substitution for the core mathematics requirement does not extend to the requirements of certain majors/programs of study. Students must submit a separate petition, following their institution’s standard procedures for modifications to program requirements, to request a course substitution for mathematics coursework required for a specific major/program of study.