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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator 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 advanced today from the Senate Education Committee.

When determining whether a child has a specific learning disability under, the New Jersey State Board of Education regulations currently permit school districts to use two of the three methodologies outlined in the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  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 available as well, 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.

“Identifying a child’s learning disability as early and accurately as possible is critical to the student’s academic performance throughout the school years.  It enables a tailor-made learning program for the pupil’s success,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex).  ”Giving professionals the ability to choose from a third measure that would best meet the needs of the child ultimately serves New Jersey’s students in the most effective and responsive manner.”

With the support of 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, the bill would also direct the State Board of Education to promulgate regulations accordingly.

With today’s 5-0 vote, the bill advances to the full Senate for further consideration.