Specific Learning Disabilities

Lydia Yeoman
Program Specialist
(904) 547-7697


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a learning disability as a “disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using the spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations.”

Learning disabilities do not include problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; intellectual disabilities; or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

A learning disability can’t be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong issue. However, children with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished careers in later life. Parents can help their children achieve such success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the educational system, working with professional and learning about strategies for dealing with specific disabilities.


A brochure detailing parental and student rights will be given to each parent. These are Procedural Safeguards for Students with Disabilities as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.


Prior to referral for student evaluation, the student’s learning problem is addressed at the school level. Procedures include:

Identification of the student’s learning problem and current functioning level in school.

Screening for vision, hearing, speech and language functioning with referral for complete evaluations where the need is indicated.

Review of social, psychological, medical, and achievement data in student’s cumulative records; and

All psychological and academic achievement evaluations will be conducted through St. Johns County ESE Department. Private evaluations will be considered. Reports from psychologists may be submitted to the student’s district school as part of the required documentation for eligibility determination.

The student’s district school is responsible for collecting all required documentation for eligibility determination. No testing is conducted unless the home zone school submits a completed referral.

A meeting of several educational specialists is held to determine whether a student is eligible for a special program.


A student is eligible for special programs for specific learning disabilities if the student meets all of the following criteria:

  1. Evidence of specific learning disability

The student’s parent(s) or guardian(s) and group of qualified personnel may determine that a student has a specific learning disability if there is evidence of each of the following:

a.  When provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s chronological age or grade-level standards, in accordance with Rule 6A-1.09401, F.A.C., the student does not achieve adequately for the student’s chronological age or does not meet grade-level standards as adopted in Rule 6A-1.09401, F.A.C., in one or more of the following areas based on the review of multiple sources that may include group or individual criterion or norm-referenced measures, including diagnostic procedures:

  • Oral expression
  • Listening comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Basic Reading skills
  • Reading fluency skills
  • Reading comprehension
  • Mathematics calculation
  • Mathematics problem solving

b.  The student does not make adequate progress to meet chronological age or grade-level standards adopted in Rule 6A-1.09401, F.A.C., in one or more of the areas identified in section1.a (above) as determined through:

  • A process based on the student’s response to scientific, researched-based intervention, consistent with the comprehensive evaluation procedures in Rule 6A-1.09401, F.A.C.

c.  The group determines that its finding under paragraph a) of this subsection are not primarily the results of one or more of the following

  • A visual, hearing or motor disability
  • Intellectual disability
  • Emotional or behavioral disability
  • Cultural factors
  • Irregular pattern of attendance or high mobility rate
  • Classroom behavior
  • Environment or economic factors
  • Limited English proficiency


2.  The student demonstrates a need for special education


  • Be sure your child knows that a learning disorder is not anyone’s fault.
  • Be positive. Increase your child’s confidence by emphasizing his or her strengths.
  • Work with your child’s teacher. If the teacher is not taking an active approach, discuss the problem with the teacher and develop new ideas.
  • Read aloud to your child.
  • Supply your child with a homework notebook, checked daily by parents (and teacher.)
  • View a list of websites with great reading activities.