Learning Disabilities Assessment Center at College of San Mateo - FAQs
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Learning Disabilities Assessment Center

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a learning disability (LD)?

A learning disability is a presumed neurological disorder that affects the manner in which an individual learns. Some people with learning disabilities experience difficulty reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia) or computing arithmetic operations (dyscalculia).

As defined by the California Community College process, a student may be eligible for services when, despite ongoing instruction in an educational setting, there is persistent difficulty processing, storing or producing information, which results in a significant discrepancy between the student's ability and achievement.

Such students demonstrate:

  • A severe processing deficit in visual, auditory and kinesthetic areas involving memory, processing speed or reasoning
  • Measured ability that is average to above average
  • Measured achievement area that is average
  • A discrepancy between ability and one or more achievement areas

A learning disability is not:

  • an indicator of below average intellectual ability
  • an emotional disorder or lack of motivation
  • a physical disability that interferes with learning
  • a language barrier which ESL (English as a Second Language) students might face

Are there special admission and registration procedures for students with an LD?

No. All students, including students with learning disabilities, go through the regular admission and matriculation procedures.

However, accommodations are available for Placement Advisory Tests for English, reading and math. A new student orientation for students with learning disabilities is offered during the spring semester. Contact the Learning Disabilities Assessment Center for orientation information.

LD Center staff can answer questions and assist students in completing the registration process.

Could I have a learning disability?

"I do well on all my classes, such as English, history, science and psychology, but not in math. No matter how hard I try, it still doesn't make sense, or I forget most of what I learned or I need more time to complete the exam."

You may have an LD, yet it is important for you to be aware of the level of difficulty in college math classes. Perhaps math is not a strong subject for you and you may not perform as well as you do in other classes. To make this determination, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I devote at least two hours daily to math homework and review?
  • Have I taken the proper math sequence as advised by the placement test other math measures?
  • Do I regularly schedule tutoring sessions at either the math lab or CSM's Tutoring Center?
  • Do I meet with the math instructor to review troublesome concepts?
  • Have I talked to an advisor or counselor about my difficulties in math?

If after reviewing these questions you still have concerns, you are encouraged to enroll in DSKL 880 to begin the evaluation process. This course includes some academic achievement assessment plus self-exploration exercises to help you understand your learning strengths and weaknesses as well as your learning style(s). It also provides learning tools to help you improve your study habits, grades, and student success. It is important to note, however, DSKL 880 does not provide the complete evaluation process.

What is an LD evaluation?

The evaluation or assessment of your eligibility for services includes a battery of special standardized tests, self-report inventories and referral information. The evaluation always begins with an intake and screening, so that the LD Specialist and the student can rule out any other factors that cause or significantly contribute to academic difficulties. At this point, on- or off-campus referrals can be made.

For students who have a verified learning disability, what services and/or accommodations are available?

Based upon your individual evaluation, services may include but are not limited to:

  • test accommodations -- extra time, a quiet environment, use of computers
  • a referral to Recordings for the Blind & Dyslexic -- Electronic Audio Books
  • Assistive Technology -- Kurzweil (text reader), Dragon NaturallySpeaking (voice recognition), screen enlarger
  • priority registration
  • liaison services between students and instructors/counselors
  • transfer information
  • a referral to CSM's Tutoring Centers for Math, Reading, English, Science
  • note taking assistance
  • access to computers -- word processing and Internet
  • Career Classes -- Planning for Student Success and Educational Strategies
  • video library -- study skills, time management, note taking

What if I already have verification of a learning disability?

Please contact the Learning Disabilities Assessment Center for an appointment at (650) 574-6433.