State of Wisconsin Eligibility Criteria for Children with Disability

Specific Learning Disability

  1. Specific learning disability means a severe learning problem due to a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in acquiring, organizing or expressing information that manifests itself in school as an impaired ability to listen, reason, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations, despite appropriate instruction in the general education curriculum. Specific learning disability may include conditions such as perceptual disability, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia.
  2. The IEP team shall base its decision of whether a child has a specific learning disability on formal and informal assessment data on intellectual ability, academic achievement, and learning behavior from sources such as standardized tests, error analysis, criterion referenced measures, curriculum-based assessments, student work samples, interviews, observations, and an analysis of the child’s response to previous interventions, classroom expectations, and curriculum in accordance with s. 115.782, Stats. The IEP team may identify a child as having specific learning disability if all of the following are true:
    1.  Classroom achievement. Upon initial identification, the child’s ability to meet the instructional demands of the classroom and to achieve commensurate with his or her age and ability levels is severely delayed in any of the following areas:
      1. Oral expression
      2. Listening comprehension.
      3. Written expression.
      4. Basic reading skill.
      5. Reading comprehension.
      6. Mathematical calculation.
      7. Mathematical reasoning.
    2. Significant discrepancy. Upon initial identification, a significant discrepancy exists between the child’s academic achievement in any of the areas under subd. 1. a. to g. and intellectual ability as documented by the child’s composite score on a multiple score instrument or the child’s score on a single score instrument. The IEP team may base a determination of significant discrepancy only upon the results of individually administered, standardized achievement and ability tests that are reliable and valid. A significant discrepancy means a difference between standard scores for ability and achievement equal to or greater than 1.75 standard errors of the estimate below expected achievement, using a standard regression procedure that accounts for the correlation between ability and achievement measures. This regression procedure shall be used except under any of the following conditions:
      1. The regression procedure under this subdivision may not be used to determine a significant discrepancy if the IEP team determines that the child cannot attain valid and reliable standard scores for intellectual ability or achievement because of the child’s test behavior, the child’s language, another impairment of the child that interferes with the attainment of valid and reliable scores or the absence of valid and reliable standardized, diagnostic tests appropriate for the child’s age.
      2. If the IEP team makes such a determination under subd. 2. a., it shall document the reasons why it was not appropriate to use the regression procedure and shall document that a significant discrepancy exists, including documentation of a variable pattern of achievement or ability, in at least one of the areas under subd. 1. a. to g. using other empirical evidence.
      3. If the discrepancy between the child’s ability and achievement approaches but does not reach the 1.75 standard error of the estimate cut-off under subd. 2. (intro.), the child’s performance in any of the areas in subd. 1. a. to g. is variable, and the IEP team determines that the child meets all other criteria under subds. 1. and 3., the IEP team may consider that a significant discrepancy exists. NOTE: Appendix A specifies the recommended regression formula for calculating significant discrepancy scores.
    3. Information processing deficit. The child has an information processing deficit that is linked to the child’s classroom achievement delays under subd. 1. and to the significant discrepancy under subd. 2. An information processing deficit means a pattern of severe problems with storage, organization, acquisition, retrieval, expression, or manipulation of information rather than relative strengths and weaknesses. The IEP team shall document the reasons for and data used to make its determination that the child has an information processing deficit.
  3. 1. The IEP team may not identify a child as having a specific learning disability if determines that the significant discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily due to environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage or any of the reasons specified under s. 115.782 (3) (a), Stats., or any of the impairments under s. 115.76 (5), Stats., except s. 115.76 (5) (a) 10.

    2. If the IEP team is concerned that a child has a significant discrepancy in oral expression or listening comprehension, the IEP team shall include a person qualified to assess speech and language impairments.

    3. A child who is found to have a significant discrepancy between ability and achievement in the single area of oral expression or listening comprehension and who meets criteria for speech and language impairment under sub. (5) shall be considered to have a primary impairment in the area of speech and language.

    4. At least one observation in the general classroom setting by a team member other than the classroom teacher shall be conducted.

  4. Upon reevaluation, a child who met initial identification criteria under par. (b) and continues to demonstrate a need for special education under s. PI 11.35 (2), including specially designed instruction, is a child with a disability under this section, unless the provision under par. (c) 1. now applies. If a child with a specific learning disability performs to generally accepted performance expectations in the general education classroom without specially designed instruction, the IEP team shall determine whether the child is no longer a child with a disability.

Copies of all appropriate eligibility criteria are to be provided by the case manager to all IEP team members at the IEP meeting.

For further inquiries regarding special education, please contact Nissan Bar Lev, Director of Special Education CESA #7, telephone (920) 849-9384, or check the CESA #7 special education web site at:

508 Bobby Approved
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