Each local education agency and public school academy in Michigan is required to publicly post the process used to determine the existence of a Specific Learning Disability.

Consistent with this requirement, Dearborn Public Schools reports the following:

Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) is used when determining the existence of a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) for students in grades kindergarten through 12 across all areas including: oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading, reading fluency, reading comprehension, math calculation, and math problem solving.

It is noted, regardless of the process used, all schools must follow all of the regulatory requirements in the IDEA, the MARSE, and Michigan laws, policies and procedures for special education.

What is a SLD?

A Specific Learning Disability is “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and development aphasia that adversely affects a student’s educational performance.  A SLD does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” (34 CFR 300.8(c)(10)).

What is a PSW Process?

Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses is a process used to determine if a student has a SLD. This process involves the collection of data to determine the following:

  • The student does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or to meet state-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified at 34 CFR 300.309(a)(l)(i) when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s age or state-approved grade-level standards.
  • The student 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 determined by the Multi-disciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) to be relevant to the identification of a SLD, using appropriate assessments, consistent with the IDEA Evaluation Procedures and Additional Requirements for Evaluations and Reevaluations.

Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services (2010)