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Tests & Assessments
Assessing Reading Difficulties and Disabilities

Question 4.

What tests measure reading?


Your child's reading should be assessed by tests that measure specific skills. Achievement tests can assess multiple subjects or a single subject.

Frequently used multiple-subject achievement tests used to assess reading skills include:

Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Third Edition (KTEA-3)

Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Third Edition (WIAT-III)

Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement (WJ IV ACH)

The KTEA-3 provides valuable information about phonological awareness, oral fluency, and reading fluency. The oral language subtests are not a substitute for a speech and language evaluation. KTEA-3 includes composite and subtest scores and provides an error analysis that is useful in planning direct, explicit systematic instruction. You should always be provided with subtest scores

The WIAT-III measures these reading skills: Letter/word identification, word attack, open-ended reading comprehension, fluency and automaticity, and listening comprehension. If your child is a poor reader, but his score on the WIAT-III reading comprehension test is high, ask the evaluator whether he was dropped back to below grade-level passages. Sometimes children earn high scores because they are not actually reading grade-level text.

The WIAT-III oral language subtests are not a substitute for a comprehensive evaluation of receptive and expressive language skills.

Many evaluators use the WIAT-III together with the Wechsler tests of intelligence so they can compare ability and achievement.

The WJ IV ACH includes a standard battery and an extended battery. It is scored by computer and cannot be scored by hand. If you have questions about the accuracy of your child's scores, ask the evaluator to double check the raw scores on the protocol and as typed into the scoring program.

The WJ IV subtests are organized into clusters and because the subtests are short, they may not provide sufficient information about what your child knows and is ready to learn.

The WJ IV written expression subtests should always be supplemented by writing tests that require longer writing samples.

The Passage Comprehension subtest should be supplemented by reading tests that use longer passages.

Single-subject reading tests often provide more information about your child's strengths and weaknesses.

Commonly used tests include:

  • Comprehensive Test of Phonological Process (CTOPP2)
  • Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE-2)
  • Gray Oral Reading Tests (GORT-5)
  • Test of Silent Word Reading Fluency (TOSWRF-2)

For a complete listing, see Table 6-1 Reading Tests and the Skills They Measure in Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, 2nd Edition, page 60.

Legal Resource

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, 2nd Edition Chapter 6 - Reading Assessments

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition


20 U.S.C.§ 1401(30)

20 U.S.C.§ 1414

20 U.S.C.§ 1414(b)(6)

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, page 55, footnote 47. Page 301.

IDEA Regulations

34 C.F.R. §300.301

34 C.F.R. §300.307

34 C.F.R. §300.309(a)(1)

Additional Resources

CHART: Tests that Measure Reading Skills in Nonverbal Children

CHART: Reading Tests and the Skills They Measure

Reading Tests: What They Measure...and Don't Measure

The Root of the Problem? Rock-Bottom Reading Skills?

New! A Guide to Helping Your Child at Home: Developing Foundational Skills in Reading and Writing

4 Great Reading Definitions in NCLB

Reading at Wrightslaw

State Special Education Regulations and Guidelines. You will find your specific state regulations at your State Department of Education website. Use the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities to locate your state site.

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