Carol Sadler
Special Education Consultant/Advocate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

I am a lay Parent Advocate assisting parents of children with disabilities in school IDEA, 504 and SST meetings. I am a former CHADD and LDA Coordinator, graduate of the 1st GA Advocacy Office PLSP legal training course and most importantly parent of two children with various disabilities.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dyslexia Testing & Identification For Educational Purposes

Prepared by: Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate

I keep hearing that schools don’t test for Dyslexia. Certainly they do!

There is not one specific test for Dyslexia. Dyslexia must be broken down into components, and you test for all those components. Combined, deficits in these components make up Dyslexia. ANY school psychologist can certainly do these tests and we as advocates and parents can certainly hold them accountable to do so. The school’s testing can be then taken to a medical doctor or licensed psychologist for “official” or “medical” diagnosis. Keep in mind as well; currently “Dyslexia” specifically does not have its own DSM classification. It’s identified when students present with deficits in these areas below.

Psycho-educational evaluations when looking at Dyslexia should be comprehensive and include testing in all bolded areas below. Parent/Advocates can make this request. Dyslexia specifically should be “identified” by the school district as not all reading remedial programs are effective or recommended for Dyslexia. Before requesting the tests below, review each test on-line to be sure the test is appropriate and normed for the student you are advocating for as some may be for specific age ranges (i.e.-ages 5-9, 6-12, etc).

Additional Note: In my opinion, students with AD/HD should ALWAYS be tested ON their medication. We already know they have AD/HD. We don’t need to see and identify more attention problems. We need to test and see what other deficits they have in addition to the AD/HD. It is difficult to tease out what is attention and a true learning disability/processing deficit for students with AD/HD if they are tested off their medication.

Achievement - Reading

They should assess in all areas of reading (reading comprehension, reading fluency-rate & accuracy, basic reading-decoding & word recognition). At least two measures should be done.

Achievement testing could include a WJ (Woodcock Johnson), KTEA, WIAT-II, WRAT-4, etc. School districts typically have their favorites.

Additionally, I “always” request a GORT-4 (Gray Oral Reading Test). The GORT-4 is the Gold standard in reading testing, which measures reading rate, reading accuracy, reading fluency, reading comprehension and oral reading rate. If the school gives you a hard time regarding requesting this test, it’s one of the only test that measures Reading Fluency, which is a component they must measure……..:) Ask what test they will administer to measure fluency. They will usually then agree to administer the GORT.

The TOWRE (Test of Word Reading Efficiency) could also be used to measure word reading accuracy and fluency.

Phonological Processing & Phonological Memory

I always ask for a CTOPP (Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing).

Additional tests that could be administered are a LAC (Lindamood-Bell Auditory Conceptualization Test) or the PAT (Phonological Awareness Test)

Sometimes this testing falls under the Language Evaluation addressed below.

Achievement – Spelling and Written Expression

Most children with Dyslexia due to Orthographic Processing and Executive Function deficits also have deficits in spelling and written expression.

Achievement testing could include a WJ, KTEA, WIAT-II, WRAT-4, etc. School districts typically have their favorites.

Additionally, I always request a TOWL-3 (Test of Written Language)

Another spelling test is the TWS-4 (Test of Written Spelling).

Auditory Processing and Auditory Memory

Many children with Dyslexia present with auditory processing deficits. Some screening tests are listed below. However a full audiology CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder) test may be warranted with an audiologist. These tests are typically covered under most insurance plans. Children must be at least 7 years old and if have a co-morbid diagnosis of AD/HD should be tested on their medication.

Schools can administer screeners such as a TAPS-3 (Test of Auditory Processing Skills), SCAN-3, or APAT. Sometimes this testing falls under the Language Evaluation addressed below.

Visual-Motor & Visual Processing

Many students with Dyslexia also present with either or both visual-motor & visual processing deficits.

Every comprehensive evaluation should include an assessment to look at both visual motor and visual perception.

Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI), Bender Visual-Motor Gestalt Test (Bender-Gestalt II), MVPT-3 (Motor free Visual Perception Test), DTVP (Developmental Test of Visual Perception), TVPS (Test of Visual Perception)

School district can also administer an OT Evaluation to look at fine motor, visual motor, and visual tracking difficulties affecting reading and writing.

Executive Function

Many students with Dyslexia also present with Executive Function Disorder. Testing should include a BRIEF (rating scale), NEPSY, D-KEFS, and/or Wisconsin Card Sorting Test.


Many students with Dyslexia also present with an attention disorder, either Inattentive or with Hyperactivity. Therefore AD/HD should also be assessed. Once the evaluation is completed, testing can be taken and shared with student’s private medical doctor, either a Pediatrician or Psychiatrist, and formal “medical” diagnosis can be made and medication can be discussed.

Connor’s and BASC can be administered.

Language Evaluation

Since Dyslexia is a language based disability, a full and comprehensive language evaluation should be administered to look at impact on all areas of language (expressive and receptive language, word finding, vocabulary, semantics, pragmatics).

Tests you typically see are a CELF-3 (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals), CASL (Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language), PLS-3 (Pre-School Language Scale), TOWF (Test of Word Finding), OWLS (Oral & Written Language Scales), PPVT-4 (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), EVT (Expressive Vocabulary Test), CREVT (Comprehensive Receptive & Expressive Vocabulary Test)

Out of these tests, I prefer the CELF-3 over the CASL. If a child has word finding or rapid naming issues, I request the TOWF.

Convergence Insufficiency, Vision Tracking & Ocular Motor Apraxia

Various vision difficulties can also contribute to reading difficulties and can be co-morbid with Dyslexia. Children with tracking issues, eye teaming, complaining of words jumping on the page may need to be screened by an Optometrist. They may be good candidates for vision therapy.

Dyslexia Links

I hope this list will help others obtain appropriate testing to properly identify Dyslexia for educational purposes, IDEA eligibility, goal/objectives development and to identify appropriate reading/writing remediation.

Advocacy & Consulting Services - IEPadvocate4you
Carol Sadler, Special Education Consultant/Advocate
GA Advocacy Office PLSP I Graduate
1105 Rock Pointe Look
Woodstock, GA 30188

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"There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people." ---- Thomas Jefferson

Information contained in this communication is confidential and privileged. It is not meant to represent legal or medical advice, but rather advice given based on my knowledge as a trained Parent Advocate by the GA Advocacy Office, Council of Parent Advocates & Attorneys, CHADD, LDA, the GA DOE Parent Mentor program as an invited guest and the special education attorneys that I often work with on educational matters. Please do not forward without my permission.