Testing for Dyslexia – What Tests Do You Use?

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My son is in the 5th grade Resource Room. He has problems with reading and writing. I’m curious about dyslexia. What type of doctor can test him? What tests do they use?

To my knowledge there is not one specific “test” for dyslexia.

Evaluation is based on the “clinical judgment” of a psychologist, by the way a child tests on a battery of tests.

How Children Learn to Read…

1. The first thing you need to learn is how children learn to read. I mean really learn to read. I don’t mean just memorize and word call.

Read anything by Jeanne Chall and Louisa Moats. You can google their name to find out more about them. You will find books by them in the Advocate’s Bookstore.

2. Then look at your child’s test scores.

Consider these questions:

  • Has my child received adequate reading instruction?
  • Where are my child’s deficits in reading?
  • Does the program being used address those deficits?

3. Don’t assume a teacher knows how to teach all children to read.

Many teachers do not know how to teach children to read, especially children with dyslexia whose needs are different. The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) found that only 11 out of 72 colleges of education actually teach teachers the components of the science of reading!

Reading Tests: What They Measure, and Don’t Measure

More about Evaluations

  1. Although districts can require the use of RtI to diagnose SLD, they cannot delay the sped initial eval. They can be done at the same time. OSEP has issued a letter confirming this and that letter can be found at millermom .proboards.com under the advocacy sub board.

  2. I was surprise to see the battery of tests you chose to highlight and evaluate for dyslexia. As a mother of dyslexic child, I found that the WADE ( Wilson reassessment for encoding and decoding), to be an invaluable tool for the reading specialist working with my son who used OrtoGillingham methodology and required that his end of the year evaluations included a WADE and GORT. I made sure that these evaluations were used measure progress because they identified the specific sounds , blends, trigraphs or other areas of weakness to tailor the instruction at annual time. I also found that requiring my District to complete CBM in the areas of extreme deficit for my son before and after extended vacations gave me all the evidence to.prove substantial regression and recoupment, thus proving him with ESY services during the summer.

  3. e. Hefner, if the student is going to go to public school the school will provide the eval. It is my understanding that if the student goes to private school the public does not have to pay for the testing.

  4. Testing/evaluation for dyslexia was quoted $985.00 given at a local college, public school system was called to see if they test, this child goes to a catholic school. Parent was told that they do not test students, it is the parent’s responsibility to get the child tested with using her own money and then bring the results to the school. Is there an evaluation for children who come from a low income family and still be considered acceptable?

    • The school’s response is incorrect. As part of their Child Find responsibility, they must evaluate. If the student is determined to be eligible, then they develop an IEP to be implemented if the parent chooses to enroll the child in the public school.

    • Incorrect. If it is a private school, they aren’t required to test or provide services. They don’t accept federal funds so don’t have to follow federal law.

      • Do you know if a private school is required to adhere to the IEP for extended times on tests? In other words, not asking private school for any services other than to follow IEP guidelines and test results to allow child extra time on tests?

      • Sean, Public schools are required to identify and evaluate all children who may have disabilities under the Child Find mandate. If a student is struggling and has not been evaluated or received help, the IDEA includes the Child Find mandate that requires schools to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))

        The Child Find mandate applies to all children who reside within a State, including:
        * children who attend private schools and public schools,
        * highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and
        *children who are wards of the state.
        Please read “The Child Find Mandate: What Does it Mean to You?”

    • As a catholic school teacher in NJ I know that the local school district is responsible to pay for the evaluation and that a parent can refer the child through the catholic/private school or directly to the district. Services may be available in the school but are usually limited by budget allocation formulas to nonpublic schools.

  5. My son was placed in Special Ed at the end of 2nd grade, 3rd grade he received 30 min of Wilson – parts 1-5 in a pull out – which was not written in the IEP, then he received support facilitation in the reg ed class during the 90 min, reading block for approx. 30 min- to finish steps 6-10 of the Wilson daily. That year he scored a 2 on the – FCAT. The following year when I asked for the same type of service the principal told me that to offer Wilson this year it would have to be done in “self- contained” I went along with it because I knew needed a research based program and loved the teacher. The teacher had students on three grade levels and was unable to do the Wilson Program with Fidelty. He dropped another level now-1. HOW do I get the school to offer the Wilson?

  6. Susan makes an excellent point that RtI is not a replacement for an evaluation nor is it an acceptable reason to deny an evaluation. Just be aware that in states that require that an RtI process be used for SLD identification it can really change what the evaluation looks like. For instance, the eval may take most of the 60 day timeline to implement interventions and gather adequate progress data for a student. Just remember just because a district is using RtI does not mean traditional assessment is no longer used. RtI data can provide excellent info to better focus evaluations, or confirm results.

    On an aside just remember your child is not the disability (e.g. “a dyslexic”), so always use person first language to be consistent with the values of IDEA.

    • Thank you for People First Language choice. I live in So CA and am currently conducting Doctorate level Action Research to remove the Special Education label while adhering to Fed law stating Special Ed is a service and not a place. This SPED label lasts a lifetime! Let’s start by removing the label from our language, schools, and administrators.

  7. Amber – WE did the same thing for our dyslexic. After an evaluation by the school we asked them to provide a one on one tutor to teach our son reading. They did not have anyone who could do that. We had an outside evaluation done at the school’s expense and the outside evaluator stated our son’s dyslexia and other written and oral disabilities and recommended a specific reading program. The school did not have that program and because the evaluations proved him not making adequate yearly progress they paid for a one on one tutor 5 days per week including transportation for 6 years. My son went from non reader to a 10th grade reader and writer. The school had to provide services and did not have anyone in the school who could provide these specific services.

  8. In terms of evaluating dyslexia, I would encourage any parent to take the Denzel Washington-Philadelphia problem solving approach. Ask the psych/evaluator etc. to explain in black and white terms exactly what they are looking for, also ask them to make a hypothesis, and explain how each assessment informs it. Example- Cue School Psychologist- based on everything we know about the student, we want to determine if s/he has a weakness in the following cognitive processes (list here). To do this, we will use (list instrument here). This tool provides information about (insert cognitive processes). These cognitive processes impact reading by (XXX). We know that weaknesses in the (insert areas), tend to indicate the presence of (insert processing disorder). I know this sounds stilted, but it will really shine a light on the clinical judgment that a team is basing its decision on. Not to mention, it will allow you to have a better understanding/more meaningful voice in that process.

  9. My 9 year old son was also recently diagnosed with dyslexia. Looking back at the school psychologists report, I am not sure what test were even used or what areas were covered? So, I am in the process of locating an independent evaluation for him. This morning I have a meeting with the Director of Special Ed for the District. This will be fun…My plan is to listen to what they have to say about placement in a special day class and medication.There easy way out at his expense. I know that in order for him to make any progress, he’ll need to work with someone who can administer something like the Barton Reading System. If they don’t have anyone in-house, I plan to ask that they provide him with one on one tutoring from an outside source at their expense of course. I have no idea if they are legally required to provide this service?

  10. RtI does not replace a comprehensive eval. A parent can request one at any time. Schools are required to locate, identify & evaluate all kids suspected of having a disability. If I were the parent of a kid participating in RtI which the school refused to evaluate while participating & my kid was later identified as having a SLD, I would go for compensatory ed for their failure to identify. RtI should be a way to prevent the over identification of children with SLDs. RtI should provide adequate instruction to begin with, thereby not crippling a kid educationally for life & creating a SLD. There are kids with true processing disorders, dyslexia, & other reading disabilities. But, some kids identified as having SLDs, really suffer from another form of disability, I like to call ABT (ain’t been taught). RtI is just good teaching!

  11. Keep in mind that some state’s now mandate a Response to Intervention approach for eligibility of a Learning Disability. This really makes a difference in terms of what an evaluation may or may not entail, but does help focus the school on providing intervention support to the student.

    Katherine, remember to use person-first lingo with your daughter. She is not her disability (e.g. dyslexic etc.), she has learning disabilities (sounds like in reading, math, and writing).

  12. My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in the 3rd grade. The school did not want to test but we did on our own. Look for the title Educational Evaluation. We took those test results and the district used them, of course they had to do additional testing, haha. Not only is she dyslexic, she is also dysgraphic, written expression, and LD in math. So if your gut is telling you something and the school disagrees, go with your gut, I did and I am glad I did! Good Luck!

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