Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Date of Graduation

Summer 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Deborah Kipps-Vaughan

Ashton Trice

Tammy Gilligan


When special education eligibility is being determined under Specific Learning Disability, the exclusionary clause needs to be carefully considered. The current study was concerned with the exclusions of cultural factors, environmental or economic disadvantage, and limited English proficiency. The study used a semi-structured interview to explore when and how the exclusionary clause is considered by school psychologists in Virginia and what type of impact it has on eligibility decisions. Ten school psychologists were contacted via the email database of the Virginia Department of Education and completed a phone interview. Grounded theory was used to investigate the themes and ideas regarding the research questions: 1) What are the current practices of Virginia school psychologists when considering the Specific Learning Disability exclusionary clause? 2) How do Virginia school psychologists define the intent of the law when considering the Specific Learning Disability exclusionary clause and do their current practices fulfill that intent? 3) Do Virginia school psychologists believe there is a relationship between the practices used to discuss the Specific Learning Disability exclusionary clause and its legitimacy? 4) What current interventions, if any, are being used to address the Specific Learning Disability exclusionary clause factors of socioeconomic/environmental disadvantage, cultural factors, or English as a second language? Overall results imply the clause should be discussed, and this discussion should take place during Child Study as well as Eligibility. There is a need for further definitions of the exclusionary factors through criteria sheets or other means. School districts should consider training for school personnel, especially teachers, as far as the exclusionary clause factors and the impact on students. School psychologists would benefit from being more involved in Response to Intervention and allowing the factors to shape their interventions. School psychologists need to continue to identify specific needs and advocate for those needs.