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Ruiz Bill to Allow Additional Learning Disability Evaluation Method Advances

Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) testifies in support of legislation that provides in-state tuition to undocumented young adults.

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate Education Chair M. Teresa Ruiz that would require the state to permit a school district to utilize an additional approach to determine a child’s specific learning disability was approved by the full Senate today.

“Identifying a child’s learning disability early and accurately is crucial to ensuring the student’s success throughout their academic career. It enables a tailor-made learning program based on the pupil’s individual needs,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).  ”Giving professionals a third option for determining if a child has a learning disability would allow them to serve the student in the most effective way possible.”

Under current law, the New Jersey State Board of Education regulations only permit school districts to use two of the three methodologies outlined in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act when determining if a student has a learning disability. They include (1) a severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability; and (2) use of a process based on the child’s response to scientific research-based intervention.

This bill, S-2526, would permit school districts to use the third method included under federal law, which examines whether the child exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, state-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability.

Learning Disabilities Association of New Jersey, New Jersey Decoding Dyslexia, the New Jersey Psychological Association, the New Jersey Association of School Psychologists and the New Jersey Association of Learning Disability Teacher Consultants are in support of the bill.

With today’s 38-0 vote, the bill cleared the Senate.