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Identifying Specific Learning Disabilities: Legislation, Regulation, and Court Decisions

Zumeta, Rebecca O.; Zirkel, Perry A.; Danielson, Louis

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000006
Original Articles

Specific learning disability (SLD) identification and eligibility practices are evolving and sometimes contentious. This article describes the historical context and current status of the SLD definition, legislation, regulation, and case law related to the identification of students eligible for special education services. The first part traces the history of research related to identification practices and federal legislation. The second part discusses current federal law, state policies, and case law. The concluding part provides a synthesis and, based thereupon, future policy recommendations. The primary suggestions are the future policy priorities (a) provide clear regulatory guidance on the basis of available research evidence; (b) pay more specific attention to identification timelines; and (c) provide clarification of procedures for referral and eligibility determination when implementing response to intervention.

American Institutes for Research, Washington, District of Columbia (Drs Zumeta and Danielson); and College of Education, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Dr Zirkel).

Corresponding Author: Rebecca O. Zumeta, PhD, American Institutes for Research, 1000 Thomas Jefferson St NW, Washington, DC 20007 (

The authors have indicated that they have no financial and no nonfinancial relationships to disclose.

© 2014Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins