Step 1: Initial Screening
For students with a full formal evaluation (as described below) and diagnosis
The student makes an appointment with a member of the LSC staff to initiate the process for requesting academic accommodations. The LSC staff (and Counselors, in the case of mental health disorders), will review documentation provided to confirm that it is current and complete. If so, the student will move on to step 3 (see below).
For students without a full formal evaluation and diagnosis
Students who suspect they may have a condition that is affecting their learning, or who are referred by a teacher and/or parent, can contact the LSC to make an appointment to help identify the root causes of their academic frustrations
If there is a possibility of a mental health challenge impacting academic performance, a Counselor will conduct a screening in order to gather information and collaborate with the LSC staff. Upon completion of the initial screening, the LSC staff will recommend strategies for the student to try or will recommend further evaluation by a licensed, third-party professional for a formal assessment.
Occasionally, parents/guardians will have concerns about their student and will reach out directly to the LSC regarding academic accommodations. Since in general it is ideal to involve the student from the initial stages of the process, we encourage students to take initiative, but we recognize that this is not always possible.
Step 2: Formal Evaluation
- A formal assessment is typically called a “psycho-educational”, “psycho-ed”, or “neuro-psych” evaluation; the purpose is to identify and diagnose any cognitive or attentional differences and/or mental health challenges, as well as identify the functional limitations that impact academic functioning.
- This assessment is typically administered by a trained and licensed professional who has expertise in administering academic, cognitive, psychological and / or other appropriate specialized evaluations. In the event that a student is already in ongoing psychotherapy, we recommended that the evaluating professional not be the therapist.
- Diagnostic screening by a pediatrician, therapist, or other treating professional is insufficient to reliably and validly identify any accompanying limitations in functioning. A formal evaluation is comprehensive in scope and bases recommendations for appropriate accommodations on functional limitations identified through the evaluation.
- In finding an evaluating professional, it is important to work with someone that you have confidence in and feels like a good fit for the student. The team can provide a list of professionals that families have used in the past.
- If there are any concerns regarding the cost of an assessment, the team can provide a list of organizations that offer psycho-educational assessments at a reduced fee.
- Please note that the process of getting tested for a possible learning difference and/or mental health challenge can take a long time. It can take months to get the appointment for testing, and then more months to get the final report back, without which a student is not eligible for accommodations. *Students whose documentation is received by the LSC less than one month prior to final exams will not have their paperwork processed, or be eligible for accommodations, until the following semester. Students who begin this process late in high school (generally after sophomore year) run the risk of not being eligible to apply for accommodations on standardized tests in time to use them.
Step 3: Creating the Educational Plan
- Following the receipt of documentation (of a learning or attentional difference) mentioned above, the LSC staff will gather input from the student and their family in order to compose and implement a formal educational plan called the Learning Profile.
- If there is a mental health diagnosis that is the cause of or that interacts with another condition that impacts learning, the Counseling Dept. may also, as appropriate, provide input as the Learning Profile is being crafted. Gathering input for the LP document may also involve members of the LSC/Counseling department meeting with the student, consulting with any outside provider(s), reading assessment reports and communicating with the evaluating professional, and conducting observations of the student in class.
- The Learning Profile process will look different at different grades as outlined above in “Academic Accommodations Four-Year Program Progression.”
Step 4: Implementation of Academic Accommodations
- The implementation of academic accommodations at school will begin by holding a Learning Profile meeting in which the information is shared with the student’s current teachers.
- In-house accommodations can be implemented quickly after the above steps have been completed.
- Please note that students are not eligible to apply for standardized testing accommodations until at least four school months after the Learning Profile has been put in place.
Step 5: Updating Documentation
The requirements of outside organizations impact the cycle of documentation.
- For psychiatric conditions an evaluation must be current within 12 months of the request for accommodations. This evaluation must be updated annually.
- For visual or auditory disabilities, documentation must be current within two years.
- For physical/medical disabilities, the date of the most recent evaluation must be within one year from the time of the request.
- For learning/attentional disabilities:
- The College Board requires documentation to have been updated within the past 3 years.
- The ACT requires documentation to have been updated within the past 5 years.
- Most colleges/universities ask for documentation to have been administered after a student turns 16, using the adult versions of the tests.