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Testing for Dyslexia

The following elements should be included in an assessment for dyslexia

  • Developmental, medical, behavioral, academic and family history;
  • A measure of general intellectual functioning (if appropriate);
  • Information on cognitive processing (language, memory, auditory processing, visual processing; visual motor integration, reasoning abilities and executive functioning);
  • Tests of specific oral language skills related to reading and writing success to include tests of phonological processing;
  • Educational tests to determine level of functioning in basic skill areas of reading, spelling, written language and math.

Testing in reading/writing should include the following measures

    • Single word decoding of both real and nonsense words;
    • Oral and silent reading in context (evaluate rate, fluency, comprehension and accuracy);
    • Reading comprehension;
    • Dictated spelling test;
    • Written expression: sentence writing as well as story or essay writing;
    • Handwriting;
    • A classroom observation, and a review of the language arts curriculum for the school-aged child to assess remediation programs that have been tried.

    What Happens After the Evaluation?

    Discuss the test results with the individual who did the testing. You should receive a written report consisting of both the test scores as well as an explanation of the results of the testing. The names of the tests administered should be specified. The strengths and weaknesses of the individual based on interview and tests data should be explained and specific recommendations should be made.

    In the case of school-aged students, a team meeting should take place when the evaluation is completed. This meeting should include the student's teachers, parents and individuals who did the testing. When there is a reading problem, the report should suggest recommendations for specific intervention techniques. This intervention should be provided by skilled teachers who are specifically trained in explicit, research-based instruction.

    How Long Does Testing Take?

    An average series of tests will take approximately three hours. Sometimes it will be necessary to conduct the testing in more than one session, particularly in the case of a young child whose attention span is short or who might fatigue easily. The extent of the evaluation is based on clinical judgment.

    Who Is Entitled to Testing?

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides for free testing and special education services for children attending public school. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provide protection against discrimination in federally funded programs for individuals who meet the criteria for qualification. This includes individuals diagnosed with dyslexia.

    For more on dyslexia, check out these 10 dyslexia resources.


    Adapted with permission from the International Dyslexia Association fact sheet “Testing for Dyslexia,” which was prepared with the assistance of Lorna Kaufman, PhD

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