Assessment and Referral : Learning Needs Screening Tool

Program/Practice Name: Learning Needs Screening Tool, Northwest Center for the Advancement of Learning, Payne & Associates, Inc.

Contact Information:
Nancie Payne, Ph.D.
Payne & Associates, Inc.
205 Lilly Road NE
Building B, Suite A
Olympia, WA 98506 
Phone: (360) 491-7600

Type of Program/Practice: A small, woman-owned business, Payne & Associates, Inc. provides cutting-edge, practical services designed to maximize human potential and create productive environments for individuals with non-apparent disabilities.

Program/Practice Description: Payne & Associates, Inc. provides services to a wide variety of customers and clients, including private businesses; Federal and State government programs; vocational rehabilitation; workforce programs, including welfare-to-work, corrections, and social and human services; and secondary and postsecondary education institutions. The company specializes in research-based methods and services for those who employ and/or provide services to individuals who have learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, head injuries/trauma, seizure disorders, mental and emotional health disorders, and related cognitive disorders. The diverse customer base requires a sophisticated level of knowledge about employment and management policies, procedures, practices, and industry standards, as well as attentiveness to the specific requests and needs of the customer. For nearly two decades, Payne & Associates, Inc. has provided organizational development, project management, staff development, human resources assistance, consultation, and technical assistance services internationally to many repeat customers in the business, government, service, and education communities. All services are designed specifically for the customer.

Background/Program History: Payne & Associates, Inc. and the Northwest Center for the Advancement of Learning were established in direct response to the significant lack of practical and applicable services within communities that were attempting to address the needs of those adolescents and adults who have learning disabilities and related cognitive disorders. Nancie Payne has a 30-year history of providing direct services to individuals and families who have learning and other cognitive disabilities and are in poverty, come from diverse backgrounds, are under-educated, and are underemployed or unemployed. She has spoken to hundreds of people in 38 States, Puerto Rico, and Canada on subjects addressing learning disabilities, diversity, and poverty and is an international leader in the field of learning disabilities. She has written a number of publications addressing special learning needs, assessment, instruction, accommodations, transition, and work success. Among her numerous publications are chapters entitled "Job Accommodations: What Works and Why" in Learning Disabilities and Employment (Gerber and Brown), and "The RationaleComponents, and Usefulness of Informal Assessment" inBridging the Gap in Adult Education and Literacy Programs (Vogel and Reder). She also was featured as one of 13 adults who have learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in Arlyn Roffman's book, Meeting the Challenge of Learning Disabilities in Adulthood, in which she shares portions of her personal journey during childhood and adulthood. Her most recent publication is "Adults Who Have Learning Disabilities: Transition from GED to Postsecondary Activities," from 2010.

Innovations and Results: As an Accredited Rehabilitation Service and certified Community Rehabilitation Program, the center is a model full-service operation providing direct services to clients who have cognitive disabilities. The center provides services to approximately 75 to 100 clients annually; service hours range from a few hours to 25 or 30 hours over a period of 1 to 4 months. Each person is treated first as an individual and as such has strengths and can set goals for success. Providing direct services through the center affords a deep base of authentic experience that the majority of consultants and trainers in the field do not possess. Direct services are provided to adolescents, adults, and their families and include:

  • Learning disability and cognitive assessment and evaluation
  • Vocational assessment
  • Counseling, coaching, and support groups
  • Employment assistance and support
  • Self-employment exploration and development
  • Skills assessment, instruction, and tutoring
  • Assistive technology and computer skills development

Dr. Payne is the developer and publisher of six versions of the Payne Learning Needs Inventory, which was the instrument used in the research with welfare participants to develop the Learning Needs Screening Tool (validated screening tool used by many States and programs nationwide). Additionally, using a customer-centered approach, she has designed and implemented three models for comprehensive service delivery: intensive interviewing, transition, and training/work accommodations. Payne & Associates, Inc. has a clear vision of improved customer services through research-proven approaches.

Referrals for direct services include Vocational Rehabilitation, Veterans Administration, the Intertribal Agency, Justice, schools, and private organizations/community residents. In ongoing surveys and feedback processes, 90 percent of clients surveyed rated services at above average or excellent and 86 percent reported that their goal was achieved through the services provided.

Tips to Implementation: It is important to understand the purpose of screening and diagnosis and to follow through with the critical services and supports that make a difference. The challenge of today's "fix-it" mentality is that while hidden, learning disabilities and many related or co-accompanying disorders are lifelong conditions. They do not go away after discovery or diagnosis. The belief is that if an individual is diagnosed with and informed about a learning disability, it will change and all will be well. However, progress does not occur without a true understanding of self and well developed self-determination skills, which take support and time to develop.

The more the field learns about disability and diversity, the more we see incongruence. While learning disabilities are not isolated to one culture or ethnic group, the meaning and acceptance of the term disability is not consistently embraced. Western culture suggests an operational flow of identification of the weakness or what is wrong together with a plan to correct or remove it. Many cultures and ethnicities uphold the strengths-based model, focusing on the attributes of the individual while minimizing weaknesses. This aspect of diversity is not well understood or addressed within systems.

In the whole of learning disabilities and identification the questions are: What are we striving for? What do we want? There are numerous concerns that must be addressed, including diversity values, alternative testing methods for those whose primary language is not English, transition planning and career development for adults, self-determination development, and accommodations.

The majority of people diagnosed with a learning disability have co-accompanying disorders that also are not addressed. Research has shown that learning disabilities are genetic. Thus, a welfare recipient may have children who also have learning disabilities. The model of service must employ a whole person-whole family approach.

Keys to Success:

  • Go beyond talk to taking action.
  • Employ a learner-centered approach, always leveraging an individual's strengths, styles, and abilities.
  • Have high expectations; people tend to live up to the expectations of someone they respect.
  • Adopt an attitude of honoring learners with true acceptance and understanding.
  • Recognize that more upfront time and energy in the service delivery model will lead to success at the end with less total time spent.

The following tools are associated with Learning Needs Screening Tool.  Please send us an email at for more information about these tools.

Job Analysis & Cognitive Mapping

Reference Guide

Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder & Co-Existing Disorders

Learning Needs Screening Overview

Learning Needs Screening Tool

Learning Needs Screening Tool Student/Client Copy