Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter spent much of her life as a prominent advocate for mental health. On Sunday, November 19, she passed away at her home in Plains, Georgia at the age of 96. We take this opportunity to showcase some of her important work in the field of mental health advocacy.

Advocated for mental health reform in Georgia 

When her husband Jimmy Carter was running for governor of Georgia, Mrs. Carter met a woman who had just clocked out from the night shift. She mentioned that she was on the way home to take care of her daughter who had mentally health concerns. Mrs. Carter campaigned the rest of the day and then stood in line at one of her husband’s rallies. When Mr. Carter asked her what she was doing on the rope line at his rally, she said, “I came to see what you are going to do to help people with mental illnesses when you become governor.” He replied that Georgia was going to have the best program in the country and he would put her in charge of it. 

Mrs. Carter served as a member of the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped during her husband’s governorship.

Served as an advocate for mental health as First Lady 

Once Mr. Carter was in the White House, Mrs. Carter served as the honorary Chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health and testified before the Senate on behalf of the Mental Health Systems Act, which led to the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. The Mental Health Systems Act provided grants to community mental health centers. It was considered landmark legislation and has created a framework for much of the mental health legislation since that time. 

While in the White House, the Carters helped establish 123 community mental health centers.

Focused on improving mental health and health care 

After leaving Washington, DC, Mrs. Carter continued to advocate for mental health. The Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy has focused on improving mental health care by engaging thought leaders on topics such as how to promote access to appropriate and affordable behavioral healthcare services, issues related to improving the quality of mental health services, and concerns about reducing the stigma related to mental health and substance abuse. 

In addition, she was pivotal in the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI). Through these initiatives, Mrs. Carter was able to address the concerns of caregivers, promote mental health awareness, and advance public and social policies by shining a light on mental health issues. 

Mrs. Carter cowrote several books on mental health and caregiving topics and received many honors for her work, including the 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award, Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association, the Dorothea Dix Award from the Mental Illness Foundation, the Nathan S. Kline Medal of Merit from the International Committee Against Mental Illness, the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine, the United States Surgeon General's Medallion, induction in the National Women's Hall of Fame, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. She was an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. 

Mrs. Carter once reflected why it was important to make mental health her priority: “I wanted to take mental illnesses and emotional disorders out of the closet, to let people know it is all right to admit having a problem without fear of being called crazy. If only we could consider mental illnesses as straightforwardly as we do physical illnesses, those affected could seek help and be treated in an open and effective way.”


Rosalynn Carter was a tireless advocate for mental health causes. The Carter Center plans to continue this important work.

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The newest additions to the PDD Behavior Inventory (PDDBI) product family are now available. 

The PDDBI can better help you to document and evaluate change in individuals on the autism spectrum. The PDDBI is an informant-based rating scale that can be completed by parents and teachers to assess features of autism and responsiveness to intervention. 

Unlike other measures for ASD, the PDDBI was developed to assess both problem behaviors as well as appropriate social, language, and learning/memory skills. It can be used in assessment, treatment planning, and monitoring. Two new reports and a manual supplement have just been released.

PDDBI supplement provides practical insights 

The just-released PDDBI Professional Manual Supplement: Advanced Score, Multirater, and Progress Monitoring Interpretation digital supplement provides practical insight into the reasoning behind the development of the new reports as well as their application in practice. 

This new supplement provides guidance for calculation and interpretation of parent–teacher rating comparisons and tracking changes in scores over time using Reliable Change Indices. In addition, it includes guidance for advanced interpretation of the PDDBI, including interpretation of individual scores and clusters and comparisons between parent and teacher ratings. Reliable change indices are provided in order to detect significant differences (a) between raters and (b) over time.

Enhanced and updated PDDBI reports 

Updated and new reports offer clinicians additional insights to better document and evaluate change in individuals with ASD. The PDDBI Multirater and Progress Monitoring Reports are both available for no additional charge when you purchase and use a score report for each form you wish to compare. 

  • The enhanced PDDBI Score Report provides a new interpretive guidance section, a revised look and feel with icons clearly indicating score ranges, and an optional items and responses section. 
  • The new PDDBI Multirater Report allows you to select one parent rating and one teacher rating to get a detailed look at both sets of results, with significant differences clearly highlighted, both ratings plotted together on the profile, and an optional item and response section. 
  • The new PDDBI Progress Monitoring Report allows you to compare scores from one rater for up to four administrations. Get a detailed look at progress or decline with significant differences clearly highlighted, all ratings plotted together on the profile, and an optional item and response section. Comparison tables are also included.

Using the PDDBI with TRICARE 

If you are covered by TRICARE, use of the PDDBI is mandated under the Autism Care Demonstration (ACD) benefit. Under the ACD, applied behavior analysis (ABA) providers are authorized to render services for the core symptoms of ASD. The goal of ABA therapy is to minimize challenging behaviors and improve the quality of life for the individual and their caregivers. 

Under this program, the PDDBI is used as a baseline outcome measure to help providers develop treatment plans and evaluate an individual’s change in behavior over time. The PDDBI will be readministered every six months. 

If you are a clinician who accepts TRICARE, the PDDBI is mandated for use as part of initial assessment and every six months to monitor progress. Additional age-based outcome measures that evaluate parenting stress are also required under ACD (the Parenting Stress Index, Fourth Edition Short Form [PSI-4-SF] and the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents [SIPA]) are also available from PAR. Learn more about the requirements for TRICARE reimbursement under ACD.


This week, schools everywhere will be celebrating National School Psychology Week (NSPW)

NSPW is more than just a yearly observance; it's a way to acknowledge school psychologists who work tirelessly to nurture the mental health and emotional well-being of students. It also serves as a reminder of the multifaceted support that school psychologists provide. From addressing academic challenges to fostering emotional resilience, these professionals are dedicated to ensuring that each student receives the personalized support they need to thrive. 

The importance of mental health in education cannot be overstated. NSPW serves as a platform to raise awareness about mental health issues among students, parents, and educators. By fostering a culture of openness, school psychologists contribute to reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health support. 

Being a school psychologist has always been crucial, and given the current shortage of school psychologists along with the increasing demand for their services, NSPW is just one way to recognize that this role is more demanding—and more important—than ever. 

Sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the theme for NSPW this year is “Let’s Grow Together.” This theme brings to the spotlight the essential work school psychologists do to help students to flourish. 

PAR would like to thank all school psychologists for the essential services they provide to their students, and for placing your trust in our instruments. Celebrate this week by showing your school psychology pride—download our complimentary virtual background here for use on your teleconferencing software. 


Looking for more information about PAR school resources and assessments? Visit our school resources page



How to use a virtual background on Zoom: 

Sign in to the Zoom desktop app. Click your profile thumbnail, then go to “Settings.” Navigate to “Background & Effects.” Download the complimentary image here and click the “+” icon to upload. 

How to use a virtual background on Teams: 

From the Calendar, click “Join” on a meeting. In the pre-meeting screen, turn on your camera. Select the background filters icon and a panel will appear on the right with all the available background options. Download the NSPW image here. Select “Add new” and upload the image from your computer.


Halloween festivities often bring exciting anticipation for many children. However, scratchy uncomfortable costumes, flashing lights, spooky effects, and scary décor may not spell fun for every child. The following are a few things to keep in mind during this spooky season in order to make it inclusive for all. 

Show your house is inclusive to children with ASD 

Think you may have a child with ASD or other sensory differences visiting your home on Halloween? Autism Speaks offers free printables so trick-or-treaters will know your home is an autism-friendly stop. If you are trick-or-treating with a child who has ASD, Autism Speaks offers many Halloween resources, including a downloadable social story, All About Halloween, that may be a helpful way to explain many Halloween traditions like jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, costumes, and the sights and sounds of the holiday. 

Create opportunities for children with allergies 

A simple step you can take is to offer non-food treats in a teal pumpkin; this is a way to signal to the 1 in 13 children in the U.S. who have food allergies that you have a treat they can participate in without concern for their allergies. If you can’t get your hands on a teal pumpkin in time, simply using a separate bowl for your non-food items can make children with allergies feel included. 

Be understanding of a variety of abilities 

Saying “trick or treat” and “thank you” may seem like the basics of trick-or-treating, but there are many kids who may have difficulties doing so. Do not require kids to do anything in order to get their treat. You may have visitors who are nonverbal, have anxiety, point to communicate, are not wearing costumes, or may seem too old for the festivities. Don’t force kids to say “trick-or-treat” or explain their costume before putting something in their bag. 

Create a clear path for trick-or-treaters 

Keep in mind that individuals celebrating Halloween may have mobility issues—so keeping your path clearly lit, avoiding stairs, and stationing your treats where it’s easy to approach your home makes the night safer for everyone. 


Halloween should be a fun time for children and adults. Being mindful of accessibility and inclusivity concerns can help make sure this holiday can be enjoyed by more people—and making some simple changes to your Halloween routine can help create great memories.


October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It serves as a reminder of this pervasive issue that affects countless individuals and families worldwide. Learn more about the background behind this month, the impact of domestic violence, and the resources available. 

The origin of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first observed in October 1989 as an effort to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and to promote advocacy, support, and education on this critical issue. Since its inception, organizations, individuals, and communities across the United States have joined forces to support survivors and raise awareness about domestic violence. During October, numerous events, campaigns, and educational programs are organized to shed light on the issue and provide information and resources to help individuals and communities confront domestic or intimate partner violence.

The impact of domestic violence 

Domestic violence exists in every community and has an impact on individuals across the life span—and cuts across all boundaries, with no exceptions for age, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. Domestic violence includes both physical and emotional abuse. The devastating consequences of intimate partner violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people in the U.S. are physically abused by intimate partners each minute—with more than 10 million abuse victims annually. One in every 3 women and 1 in every 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. 

Domestic violence isn’t just something that happens between intimate partners—more than 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, with 90% of these children witnessing these acts of violence. Domestic violence can have long-lasting negative effects on children's emotional well-being and social and academic functioning. 

Furthermore, new research investigates violence in teen relationships. Up to 19% of teens report that they have experienced sexual or physical dating violence, with half reporting experiences of stalking or harassment. Violence in teen relationships is associated with long-term adverse outcomes, including becoming involved in intimate partner violence in adulthood, drug and alcohol use, and an increase in other high-risk behaviors.

Increase in domestic violence since 2020 

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the lockdowns that occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a global increase in domestic violence cases of 25–30% globally. The World Health Organization believes that number may have been as high as an increase of 50–60% due to hotline call volume. This underscores how widespread the issue of domestic violence is, and the importance of awareness, support, and resources to help survivors. 

Resources for individuals experiencing domestic violence 

There are a number of places to turn for support and education on domestic violence. Some of these resources include: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) is a 24/7 hotline that offers immediate support and access to resources for those in crisis. 
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers an online template for a personal safety plan. This template can be used by anyone who may anticipate violence, providing a way to prepare and plan to get to safety. 
  • The National Online Resource Center for Violence Against Women provides a rich collection of full-text, searchable electronic materials and resources on domestic violence, sexual violence, and related issues.

Adjusting to college can be difficult for even the most prepared students. But for students who may be struggling with an undiagnosed learning difficulty, the transition can be overwhelming. They may have poor coping skills, increased levels of stress, executive functioning or working memory deficits, low self-esteem, and even significant academic, interpersonal, and psychological difficulties. 

The worst part is that many of them don’t know why. According to a National Council on Disability report, as many as 44% of individuals with ADHD were first identified at the postsecondary level

The Kane Learning Difficulties Assessment (KLDA) is a tool that screens college students for learning difficulties and ADHD in order to give them the answers they need. By screening for learning difficulties and ADHD as well as other issues that affect learning, such as anxiety, memory, and functional problems like organization and procrastination, the KLDA helps to identify those individuals who should seek further assessment so they can get the help they need to succeed in college. 

Steven T. Kane, PhD, author of the KLDA took a few minutes to answer some common questions about the product, its development, and the feedback he has received on its impact.

What inspired you to develop the KLDA initially? 

Before becoming a professor and researcher, I was employed in a university disability resource center as a psychologist who specialized in learning disabilities and ADHD. I was also previously employed at three of the most diverse community colleges in California. In each of these settings, I saw literally hundreds of students who should have been screened for learning and attentional challenges but never were. I was also shocked, quite frankly, by the number of individuals I saw who clearly suffered from some form of learning or attentional difficulties as adults yet were never screened or tested in the K–12 system. 

As most of us are aware, being tested for a learning disability and/or ADHD is very expensive and simply out of reach for the majority of our most at-risk college students. I also found it troubling that almost none of these same students were ever screened for anxiety disorders or memory challenges. Thus, my goal was to develop a screening assessment that was very affordable and easy to take, preferably via the internet.

How does the KLDA differ from competitive measures? 

There are actually not a lot of similar measures, which is, again, one of the main reasons why we developed the KLDA. There are two or three other measures that assess study skills, motivation, etc., but not the key academic skills and executive functioning skills the KLDA assesses.

What are some important things clinicians should know about the KLDA? 

First, the KLDA was normed on a very large and diverse population from across the U.S. and Canada. Second, the KLDA was completed by more than 5,000 people via the internet for free as we performed factor analyses, perfected item development, etc. Third, the KLDA is very affordable, essentially self-interpreting, and can be administered quickly administered via PARiConnect. Most respondents finish the assessment in about 10 minutes as the items are written at about the fourth through sixth grade reading level. The KLDA can also guide the assessment process and inform which lengthier diagnostic assessments should be administered. Finally, the KLDA is a great discussion prompt to encourage clients to talk about their difficulties across different environments.

What feedback have you received from users on the KLDA and the insight it provides to students? 

Thus far, both practitioners and test takers have found the assessment very useful, easy to take, and comment that it leads to very interesting discussions that the respondent has often never had with anyone before.

Anything else you think is important for people to know about the KLDA? 

The KLDA is a very flexible product. The assessment can be used by individual clinicians to screen a client before they even meet for the first time. It’s been used by community colleges and universities as part of their orientation process to screen at-risk students before they fail, and study skills and student success instructors have found it extremely useful to administer to a classroom as part of a group assignment. Thanks to PAR’s PARiConnect assessment platform, the assessment can be easily administered to large groups of individuals and at a very low cost.


Learn more about the KLDA 

The KLDA is a self-report form that measures academic strengths and weaknesses in key areas, including reading, listening, time management, writing, math, concentration and memory, organization and self-control, oral presentation, and anxiety and pressure. It is useful for all levels of postsecondary education, including vocational schools, technical colleges, community colleges, 4-year colleges and universities, and graduate schools. 

Visit the KLDA page to learn more!


PAR recently lost a cherished member of our staff, Marie Mitchell. Marie was an enormous part of PAR’s success during her 33-year tenure with the company. As our order entry coordinator, Marie worked with many customers and distributors, always with a deep desire to help and a kind and positive attitude. Her loss will be felt deeply. The following are some thoughts from our staff in remembrance of Marie. 


To lose someone who has been part of PAR for so long (an amazing 33 years) is like losing a family member. Marie was a constant—quiet, determined, strong, witty, incredibly thoughtful, caring are all words that come to mind. She was a wonderful and foundational part of our company and is greatly missed by so many. 

–Kristin Greco, Chief Executive Officer 


It is difficult for me to think of PAR without Marie’s presence. It feels like she was always here as part of the Customer Service team, and she was for much of PAR’s existence. When I changed offices and moved to the South Building, I saw Marie more frequently. She would be outside my office making copies or walking by to go out to the Distribution Center. Occasionally we would chat for a few moments and catch up a little. I always enjoyed her laugh. I have very fond memories of Marie and she is greatly missed at PAR. 

–Bob Smith, Executive Chairman and Founder 


In memory and appreciation of Marie, who worked tirelessly and efficiently processing orders for our customers. She took great pride in taking great care of our customers. We miss you, Marie! 

–Cathy Smith, Vice President of Community Relations Emeritus 


I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Marie my entire career at PAR. She was always someone to look up to as she was a great source of knowledge about all things PAR. I asked her so many questions over the years and not once did she show any sign of impatience or frustration. That was Marie, just happy to help and do her part. Usually, she did way more than her part, in fact. She was hard-working and had a can-do attitude. She cared deeply about her family, both her real family and her PAR family. But my favorite thing about Marie was her stealthy sense of humor. She didn’t tell a lot of jokes, but when she landed one, it was always gold. And while she certainly took her job seriously, she loved to laugh. She was as sincere a person as I’ve ever met and I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had her as part of my life every day for the last 23 years. Although she will be missed so much by myself and the CS team, she will never be forgotten. Thank you for everything, Marie. 

–Daniel McFadden, Vice President of Customer Support 


Marie and I both arrived early each morning to the PAR office, so it was always fun to call out good morning to her each day. Marie had an unparalleled work ethic. She was so loyal and committed to PAR and to her work; it was inspiring. She and her husband Mitch had such a sweet and supportive marriage, and it was always nice to connect with him when he picked Marie up each day. She will be missed. 

–Karen Falconer, Vice President of Human Resources 


It's hard to imagine my days at PAR without Marie. Aside from being the only member of our Customer Support team that I have had the pleasure of working with for my entire tenure at PAR (more than 30 years), Marie was not only a trusted coworker and friend but also an inspiration to me. 

I've never met anyone more dedicated to PAR, our customers, and her teammates more than Marie. Always working our early shift, she was just always there for all of us and our customers. Even during the pandemic and through her health issues, she did everything she could do to be at work. She rarely took days off, and when she did, she is and was always missed because she handled so much—especially our distributors and lots and lots of orders—with speed and efficiency. 

Marie was always the picture of calm, patience, and while quiet, she had a wonderful quick wit and sincere honesty, especially when you least expected it. My treasured memories of Marie include saving cookies for her where possible and the smile on her face when she got them, laughing together when customer issues did not quite go as planned, her being completely honest with me when I really needed it and even sometimes when I didn't, and certainly the hard moments when we both needed each other's help to make customer service magic happen—Marie she would accept nothing less. Marie was truly a force and I feel so blessed to have known her. We will miss her very much. 

–Tamara Dwoskin, Customer Relationship Manager 


Marie always had a smile on her face and would brighten up the room whenever I would see her. 

–Katie Garside, InVista Account Executive 


Marie has been the foundation of our department the entire time she has worked here. Her bottomless knowledge of our processes and our customers was an inspiration to all of us. Her dry wit would come out of nowhere and make us all laugh at the perfect moments. She always had a smile for you, and you always felt that everything would be alright when Marie was around. We will miss her, but she will certainly live on in our department and in our hearts. 

–Teri Lyon, Senior Technical Support Specialist 


When I started at PAR 19 years ago, Marie and I literally shared desk space on one side. Her stacks of paper would fall over into my space on a constant basis and we would both laugh about it (she was famous for printing out everything). She was always happy to answer my questions, no matter how small or silly. She was a big help to me when I was in Customer Support and continued to help me after I moved into Administration. I always knew that I could count on her. She always came through. I am going to miss her immensely. 

–Vicki McFadden, Senior Permissions Specialist 


I was attending my first anniversary luncheon, and I sat next to Marie. I was proud of myself for accomplishing one year, and at that time, she was celebrating 25+ years at PAR. She shared all about what PAR was like when she started and how it had changed. She was a great example of loyalty and commitment. 

–Rachel Kennell, InVista Business Solutions Consultant 


I just wanted to share the love Marie had for cookies. She was like a child when it came to cookies and would have them for breakfast in a heartbeat. Every year she would take a week off around the holidays to bake cookies. 

I love to see the devotion Mitch had for her. He faithfully dropped and picked her up from work every day and prepared her lunch every day. 

Marie was that reliable motor in the department that worked so well you took her for granted. At the end of the month, she easily processed 2.5 to 3 times more faxed/emailed orders than anyone else in the department and you were just left asking yourself how she does it. One month she processed more than 900 faxed/emailed orders while the next person processed about 350! It was incredible. 

Fun fact… for years she had every PAR-released catalog at her desk. She absolutely loooovved working here (she was in office every day during COVID!). Marie really was a gem and we will miss her dearly. 

–Ketsia LeFranc, Product Support Supervisor



This Thursday, October 5, is National Depression Screening Day. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about depression, its prevalence, and the importance of early screening and intervention. 

Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 21 million American adults each year. National Depression Screening Day is dedicated to helping the 8.4% of adults who experience a major depressive episode each year. 

The prevalence of depression 

Depression is a widespread mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability globally. Depression can occur throughout the life span and can touch individuals of all genders and of all races. Yet only about one-third of people experiencing depression will seek mental health help. 

Why National Depression Screening Day? 

National Depression Screening Day was established to combat the stigma associated with mental health issues and to encourage individuals to seek help when they are struggling. 

It is just as important to screen for depression as it is to screen for other physical health concerns. Though a depression screening is not a professional evaluation, it can help people spot early signs and help them seek treatment sooner. 

Here are some key reasons why this day is crucial:

  • Stigma reduction and promoting awareness: There is still a significant stigma surrounding mental health disorders, including depression. This stigma can discourage individuals from seeking help and support. National Depression Screening Day aims to reduce this stigma by fostering open conversations about depression and mental health. 
  • Early detection: Depression can be insidious, with symptoms often going unnoticed or dismissed. Early detection through screening can significantly improve outcomes. 
  • Education: National Depression Screening Day provides an opportunity to educate the public about depression, its symptoms, and available treatments. Knowledge is a powerful tool in promoting mental health awareness and reducing misconceptions.

Resources for individuals and professionals 

Anonymous online screenings for depression are offered by Mental Health America and MindWise Innovations. These assessments can help individuals gauge their risk and provide guidance on seeking professional help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline can help guide individuals to find treatment. 

For professionals, PAR offers a variety of products to help assess individuals for depression. Learn more about our assessment tools.

A focus on mental health 

National Depression Screening Day serves as a reminder that mental health is an integral part of our overall wellbeing. Depression is a common and treatable condition, but it often goes unrecognized or untreated. By dedicating a day to depression awareness and screening, we can reduce stigma, encourage early detection, and provide vital resources to those in need. On October 5, take a moment to spread the message of hope, support, and understanding in the fight against depression. Together, we can make a positive impact on the mental health of individuals and our communities.


The Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) recently published Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards, introducing a comprehensive framework for the assessment and identification of students with specific learning disabilities (SLD). These standards are a valuable resource for educators, psychologists, policymakers, and anyone interested in and involved with enhancing the quality of education and support for individuals with specific learning disabilities. 

The primary goal of this new framework is to encourage a transition from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more individualized and research-informed evaluation process that promotes better understanding, increased collaboration, and tailored interventions for students with SLD. 

These new principles and standards expand upon the existing mandates of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by providing a more comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to evaluating and supporting students with SLDs. 

These guidelines emphasize collaborative evaluation teams involving professionals from various fields, including psychology, education, and medicine. They extend beyond the previous focus on identification and delve into personalized interventions that cater to each student's unique academic, linguistic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs. Additionally, these updated principles highlight the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity that have not been explicitly addressed in prior IDEA mandates.

The SLD landscape 

LDA research sheds light on the educational landscape for students with specific learning disabilities, revealing that they constitute 32% of the student disability population (National Center for Education Statistics, 2023). The research also reveals the persistent challenge of low student achievement; specifically, the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data indicates a substantial disparity between students with disabilities and their peers without disabilities. According to 2022 NAEP data: 

  • 70% of fourth graders with disabilities scored below basic levels in reading, compared to 32% of their peers without disabilities. 
  • There is an average gap of 38.5% between students with disabilities and students without disabilities who scored below basic in fourth- and eighth-grade reading. 
  • There is a 36% difference in the number of students with disabilities scoring below basic levels in fourth- and eighth-grade math compared to students without disabilities.
  • 64% of eighth graders with disabilities scored below basic compared to 25% of their peers without disabilities. 
  • 72% of eighth graders with disabilities scored below basic in math, whereas only 33% of their peers without disabilities did the same. 
  • 53% of fourth graders with disabilities scored below basic in math compared to 20% of their peers without disabilities. 

Additionally, this research underscores significant inequity for students with SLD, especially those from Black/African American, Latinx, or Indigenous backgrounds. These students are disproportionately marginalized in the areas of identification, intervention, and instructional processes compared to White students. 

Given this data, the team from LDA determined it was necessary to develop new principles and standards that not only identify the cause of learning differences but potential interventions.

The seven principles of SLD evaluation 

LDA created the new standards using seven foundational principles to create a common set of values among stakeholders with respect to SLD evaluation. These principles are: 

  • Interdisciplinary: Evaluations should be a collaborative process informed by multiple disciplines that have relevance to SLD. 
  • Research-informed: SLD evaluation should be informed by the most up-to-date research, using valid and credible methods. 
  • Consequentially valid: The result of SLD evaluations should be positive outcomes, whether an SLD diagnosis is made or not. The evaluation should result in greater clarity surrounding a child’s learning challenges and how best to support them. 
  • Dynamic and iterative: The evaluation, intervention, and follow up should be an iterative process. It is fluid, ongoing, and continual. 
  • Whole-child focused: Evaluations should result in a whole-person view, meaning that the information should be used in a comprehensive way that includes not just the cognitive perspective. 
  • Strengths-based: Equal attention should be paid to an individual’s academic and personal strengths as to their difficulties. 
  • Universally benevolent: All individuals should be treated equally regardless of circumstance, culture, limitations, differences, or difficulties. The process must be used to benefit students no matter what the outcome.

Eight standards for SLD evaluation 

Using these principles, the LDA team established the following standards for SLD evaluation

  1. Interdisciplinary collaboration: The standard emphasizes the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration among educators, psychologists, parents, and other professionals in conducting holistic SLD assessments. By involving various stakeholders such as psychologists, educators, speech pathologists, counselors, parents, and students themselves, this advocates for an interdisciplinary process. This approach ensures a holistic understanding of student's strengths and needs, promoting a more comprehensive assessment and intervention strategy. 
  2. A continuum of evaluation: SLD evaluation should be ongoing and iterative. Using assessment data, implementing targeted interventions, and employing progress monitoring techniques should create an atmosphere where diagnosis and interventions are being continually refined in order to be bidirectional and iterative. 
  3. Research-supported practice: This standard emphasizes the importance of content-specific research and the use of high-quality assessment tools. 
  4. Culturally informed: Evaluators should gather information on the student’s home language, their level of proficiency in the language of instruction, and make informed decisions on using assessments in the language the individual is most proficient in. 
  5. Embraces strengths: Evaluations should be holistic, taking into account the multiple domains and focusing on character strengths and motivations in addition to academics.
  6. Supported through comprehensive professional development: Professionals involved in evaluation should be up-to-date on the latest research and best practices. 
  7. Holistic understanding regardless of identification criteria: The goal of evaluation should be to understand a holistic view of the individual as a learner. Recommendations should be specific to the learner’s cognitive, social–emotional, and executive function strengths. 
  8. Leads to improved outcomes: The results of the evaluation should always be to create improved educational outcomes with actionable steps to improve academic and social–emotional functioning.

About this research 

The researchers involved in creating the principles and standards pursued a comprehensive strategy that interwove historical context, global viewpoints, and scholarly research. Their approach involved dissecting the progression of terms and definitions connected to SLD, delving into historical shifts in perspectives, and emphasizing the pivotal role of cognitive assessments in SLD evaluations. 

By integrating these insights, the LDA constructed a holistic model for the SLD evaluation process. This model encompasses guiding principles, assessment components, and avenues for future enhancements—the methodology aimed to establish a dynamic framework accommodating the evolving landscape of SLD evaluation practices and insights. 

LDA’s research highlights pivotal aspects of the evolution in identifying SLDs. These findings illuminate the shift toward a more inclusive, adaptable, and personalized approach to assessing and addressing learning challenges. This includes transforming SLD terminology globally in response to the growing importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and adopting innovative response-to-intervention (RTI) methods.

Summary of research findings 

The Specific Learning Disabilities Evaluation Principles and Standards is a comprehensive guide aligned with well-established research and practices in SLD evaluation. 

This research underscores the critical importance of incorporating qualitative and quantitative research methodologies while accounting for individuals' cultural and linguistic contexts. The outcomes of this research have the potential to significantly enhance the understanding and refinement of SLD evaluations, ultimately leading to more equitable and efficient interventions and support mechanisms for those grappling with specific learning disabilities. 

The outlined principles and standards offer evaluators a structured framework for conducting thorough and valid assessments of individuals with suspected SLD. An integral aspect of this approach involves employing diverse assessment methods from various data sources. 

Notably, the research advocates utilizing multiple assessment approaches, encompassing standardized tests, observations, interviews, and questionnaires. As a result of this multifaceted methodology, an individual's strengths, weaknesses, and distinct learning requirements can be comprehensively identified. 

Further elevating the significance of this work is its emphasis on the need to incorporate an individual's cultural and linguistic background during SLD evaluations. This inclusion fosters culturally responsive assessment practices that consider the influence of one's cultural heritage and linguistic proficiency on one's learning and academic accomplishments. 

The implications of these research findings extend to practitioners, policymakers, and researchers entrenched in the domain of SLD evaluation. This study provides important guidance to improve evaluations for people with learning disabilities, ensuring a fair and effective assessment process.



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McHale-Small, M., Tridas, E., S., Cárdenas-Hagan, E., Allsopp, D.H., van Ingen Lauer, S., Scott, K.,& Elbeheri, G. (2023). Specific Learning Disabilities Principles and Standards. Learning Disabilities Association of America. 

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 2023 National Report Card.


For more than 20 years, PAR has taken part in a week-long campaign to raise funds for United Way Suncoast

Last week was our 2023 fundraising drive; PAR staff spent the week learning more about the impact United Way has on the Tampa Bay community while taking part in team challenges and interdepartmental games. We are thrilled that we had 100% staff participation and exceeded our fundraising goal—raising $120,969 in staff contributions to benefit those in need. 

In the Tampa area, United Way aims to break the cycle of generational poverty through initiatives targeted at education, literacy, financial education, disaster services, neighborhood programs, and strategic community partnerships. 

We were fortunate to have leaders of our local United Way as well as representatives from partner agencies visit our offices this week to share the impact our donations have had on our community. 

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One of PAR’s core values is to give back to our community. Learn more about some of the ways we do that throughout the year.