National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities News

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By Elsa Cardenas-Hagan, Ed.D., CALT, IDA Vice President

The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) is a national group that represents 12 organizations who are concerned about individuals with learning disabilities.  IDA is one of the organizations that contributes to NJCLD’s mission for multi-organizational leadership and resources to benefit individuals with learning disabilities.  Currently IDA has 3 members who serve on this committee: Emerson Dickman, Past President of IDA, Elsa Cardenas-Hagan, Vice-President of IDA, and Elisabeth Liptak, IDA Director of Professional Services.

The member organizations include the following: American Speech Language and Hearing Association, Association on Higher Education and Disability,  Association of Educational Therapists,  Council for Learning Disabilities, Division for Communicative Disabilities and Deafness, Division for Learning Disability, International Dyslexia Association, International Reading Association, Learning Ally, Learning Disabilities Association of America, National Association of School Psychologists, and National Center for Learning Disabilities.

The mission of NJCLD includes collaboration and consensus among member organizations. The committee works on identifying and addressing needs in research, practice, and professional education and development related to learning disabilities.  This interdisciplinary forum is also important to increase communication and understanding among educational organizations, community and governmental agencies. The committee is charged with making recommendations regarding key issues affecting individuals with learning disabilities.  In so doing, NJCLD develops and disseminates statements, reports and other resources in the area of learning disabilities.  The purpose is to clarify issues, improve practice and increase knowledge regarding learning disabilities.

In 2011, NJCLD published the report, Learning Disabilities: Implications for Policy Regarding Research and Practice.  The report includes general agreement for the definition of learning disabilities, common misperceptions about learning disabilities, principles for guiding policy decisions regarding research and practice, and recommendations for federal and state governments.  It is important for policy makers to understand the issues affecting individuals with learning disabilities.  Federal laws and regulations have brought increased attention to how educators and professionals serve students with learning disabilities.  There also have been improvements over the last few years on student performance for state assessments.  Yet, it is important to have continued leadership at the federal, state and local levels to ensure the rights of all individuals.  In this way, students with learning disabilities can receive appropriate services from professionals who are highly qualified to instruct them.

In 2010, NJCLD published the report, Comprehensive Assessment and Evaluation of Students with Learning Disabilities.  This paper serves as an update for two previous NJCLD papers that provided a basis for understanding issues of assessment, evaluation, identification and eligibility for learning disabilities. This more recent report includes guiding principles for comprehensive assessment and evaluation for students with learning disabilities.  It also describes the process for a comprehensive assessment and evaluation.  Finally, 21 specific recommendations in the areas of research, professional development, families and advocates, and administration /leadership are included.  This document can inform administrators, educators, parents and others who are concerned about current practices regarding the identification and education of students with learning disabilities.

Currently NJCLD has four workgroups whose work is dedicated to address the Common Core State Standards and Students with Learning Disabilities, The Impact of Poverty on Education, Professional Development, and Communications.  Information regarding future and previous reports from NJCLD can be found at In addition, IDA hosts a panel from NJCLD at the annual conference.  Look for this session at the IDA conference in New Orleans this November.

Elsa Cardenas-Hagan, Ed.D., CALT, a Vice President of the IDA, is a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist and a Certified Academic Language Therapist.  She is the Director of Valley Speech Language and Learning Center in Brownsville,Texas and works with Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics at the University of Houston.  Dr. Cárdenas Hagan is the author of Esperanza (HOPE): a Spanish language program designed to assist students who struggle with learning to read. Her research interests include the development of early reading assessments for Spanish speaking students in addition to the development of reading interventions for bilingual students. She was the co-principal investigator of a longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Institute for Education Science, examining the oracy and literacy development in English and Spanish of Spanish speaking children.  She is also the Co-Founder of Brownsville READS! a nonprofit organization to promote literacy. She has authored curricular programs, book chapters, and journal articles related to oracy and literacy development for English language learners.

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