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Faculty FAQ

Faculty may refer any student for assessment directly to the Learning Disability Specialist. 

Learning Disability Assessment determines the strengths and weaknesses of students and provides academic accommodations based on the comprehensive assessment results to help our students reach their utmost academic potential. 

Please submit this referral form if you believe yourself or a student would benefit from PALS services.

List of questions you might ask of a student before referring for assessment

LD Characteristics

Many students with learning differences are wary to self-identify once they begin college. Students with learning differences who were assessed often felt embarrassed when pulled out for “Resource”. They think that they will be stigmatized or want to shed the “special” label. 

Others have too often heard “you’re just lazy.” Although they struggled, these students with learning differences were never identified in school. 

Typical adults with a Learning Disability (LD) are average or above average students who “should” be doing better. They come to class; they do their homework. Despite their efforts, something just doesn’t “fit”. There seems to be a disconnect between oral and written work. Spelling and/or mechanics are often poor. Reading fluency may be weak. They may experience significant difficulty with positive and negative numbers or formulas in mathematics. LD students may understand concepts in class and do well on homework yet fail miserably on exams. Without accommodation and strategy training for their functional limitations, these students can flounder and leave college before they complete their program of study. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Accommodations are based on a comprehensive assessment of cognitive processing and achievement using multiple instruments.
  • Accommodations are based on the identified functional limitations. No two are exactly alike. 

PALS provides a learning community environment where students with learning differences feel connected. Students can access adaptive technologies and receive the strategic instruction they need to be successful college students. We provide a space where students can feel comfortable expressing themselves. They don’t need to feel embarrassed to make large movements, pace off directions, ask for help, cry when anxious, show excitement for a correct response to a hard question, solve problems on a white board, use text readers, or use the myriad other strategies that make them feel different. Students with learning differences receive:

  • Specialized tutoring while using adaptive technology and learning compensatory strategies selected to accommodate specific functional limitations
  • Specific strategic direct instruction. Research shows that students with a learning disability generally do not benefit by additional tutoring unless coupled with strategic direct instruction.
  • Guided practice

Visit the Learning Resource Center.

Below are a few examples of the types of strategies that might be used.

Color Coding – A potentially useful strategy for organizing information with color to help review important information. It is not appropriate for all students, and some students will need color coding combined with other sensory techniques. Color preferences are important too because some students actually “see” worse with certain colors. 

  • Color can be used in a variety of ways:
  • Maintain alignment
  • Distinguish between columns or rows
  • Identify sign or term differences
  • Place value and factoring
  • Graphing points and slope
  • Taking notes
  • Distinguish between major and minor points
  • Identify spelling patterns
  • Create memory cues
  • Colored filters
  • Background screens or font colors
  • Paper
  • Computer text readers for visual tracking
  • Color cues for directionality

Other types of strategies used:

  • Reduce the clutter. White space is very important. 
  • Character kerning - some need character kerning to “spread” words or math problems. 
  • Enlargement – some need font sizes enlarged
  • Vertical alignments
  • Backwards editing and proofing
  • Visual cueing
  • Tactile and kinetic activities to “feel” concepts
  • Sound and smell
  • Data dumping techniques
  • Paraphrasing or reading aloud to “hear” – this can particularly disruptive in classroom or quiet study environments
  • Distraction reduced environments
  • Breathing and/or music to reduce anxiety
  • Chunking
  • Concept Mapping or outlining
  • Verbal dictation

The California Community College Chancellor’s Office website FAQ explains the law about tape recording, calculators and more.