For students with diagnosed learning differences, and for those with suspected learning differences, we offer support in the diagnosis process, ensuring accommodations in classes, and compliance for college testing and applications.
If you suspect your child has a learning difference
If your child is struggling in any of his or her classes in spite of strong effort and preparation, there may be a reason to investigate his or her learning profile through a psych-educational evaluation. However, before you consider this costly step, please consult with our Academic Support Coordinator, who will discuss the pros and cons of going through this type of evaluation.
Accommodations for students with learning disabilities
Students who wish to receive accommodations for learning differences in class and on their tests must submit documentation of a formal educational psychiatric evaluation of their learning style to the Academic Support Coordinator. At Menlo, and other independent Bay Area schools, this documentation must satisfy the criteria established by the College Board, which will ensure that they also meet the standards set forth by most standardized test organizations (ACT, etc.) and most college application policies for students with disabilities.
The College Board and the ACT follow the ADA guidelines and follow strict criteria for approving accommodations. Therefore, Menlo students are not always eligible for accommodations (like extended time, or use of a laptop) even if the educational evaluation or other documentation recommends them. Rather, we are in the practice of submitting the educational evaluation to the College Board, and allowing this agency to determine if the student meets their ADA guidelines.
Some tips for a smooth process
- State the specific disability as diagnosed. Diagnosis should be made by a person with appropriate professional credentials, should be specific, and, when appropriate, should relate the disability to the applicable professional standards, for example, DSM-IV.
- Be current. In most cases, the evaluation and diagnostic testing should have taken place within five years of the request for accommodations. For psychiatric disabilities, an annual evaluation update must be within 12 months of the request for accommodations. We strongly recommend that the testing take place within three years of graduation, to enable students to access accommodations in college. For visual disabilities, documentation should be within two years, and for physical/medical, an update must be within one year from the time of the request.
- Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history.
- Describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the diagnosis. Include test results with subtest scores (standard or scaled scores) for all tests.
- Describe the functional limitations. Explain how the disability impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in the test.
Describe the specific accommodations requested on College Board tests, including the amount of extended time required or the maximum amount of time the student can be tested in a day, if applicable. State why the disability qualifies the student for such accommodations on standardized tests. Examples of appropriate accommodations may include:
- Extended time on examinations
- The use of a laptop for in-class note taking and examinations
- A quiet and separate, or small group, environment to take examinations
- Audio versions of textbooks
- Use of assistive technology software for notetaking such as the Livescribe SMART pen or Notability
- Establish the professional credentials of the evaluator (for example, licensure, certification or area of specialization).