Screening for Learning Disabilities in Adult Basic Education Students

This resource describes the state of diagnostic assessments for learning disabilities among adult learners. 

Sharon L. Reynolds
Jerry D. Johnson
James A. Salzman
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability
Publication Year
Resource Type
Number of Pages

This resource offers information about the state of diagnostic assessments for learning disabilities among adult learners. The extant literature offers little to describe the processes for screening students in adult basic education (ABE) programs for potential learning disabilities. Without current documentation of a learning disability, ABE students are excluded from obtaining accommodations on the GED, in the workplace, and in postsecondary education, thereby limiting opportunities for meaningful participation in these pursuits. Attentive to those concerns, this article presents results of a study investigating learning disability screening practices in Ohio ABE programs over a four-year period. Results document that screenings have increased, particularly following the implementation of statewide policies and professional development. While the rate of screenings increased, the overall number of students who were referred to and then received diagnostic assessment has remained low. Program administrators identified costs as a significant barrier to obtaining diagnostic assessment. Additional research is needed to identify and describe more specific barriers to diagnostic assessment.


What the experts say

This is a well-written and well-documented descriptive study on how one state is implementing screening for learning disabilities in adult learners. Although screening of adults has increased over recent years, this study documents the issue of diagnostic assessment cost as a major barrier in diagnosing adults with suspected learning disabilities.  The resource is informative on the reasons for screening for learning disabilities as well as on the overall screening process and what little research there is on that for ABE.  The resource can also serve as a model for those considering how to evaluate their own screening practices. 

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