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Over the last two years, LDA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Committee has spearheaded work on what will be a series of papers addressing our Core Principles for the Identification and Support of Individuals with Learning Disabilities. Recently, the Board approved the third core principle document, Best Practices in the Use of Cognitive Assessment in Learning Disability Identification. This paper was written with input from members of LDA’s Professional Advisory Board and experts in the field of learning disabilities.

IDEA defines specific learning disabilities as disorders in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.

Basic psychological processes are the equivalent of cognitive processing abilities. For this reason, it is the position of LDA that all evaluations for learning disabilities must assess cognitive processes. This most recent core principle document summarizes some of the current research that links specific cognitive abilities to academic skill acquisition. The paper goes on to describe an approach to cognitive assessment that can inform instruction and intervention and most importantly, offer insight into an individual learner’s strengths and areas of need.

A number of professional organizations that serve individuals with learning disabilities have taken the position that cognitive assessment should be an optional part of the evaluation process. This core principle document outlines the value of cognitive assessment for the identification of learning disabilities and for informing intervention and accommodations. Cognitive assessment is a necessary component of a comprehensive evaluation for learning disabilities.

Read the document in full at