Quick facts about dyslexia tests
Quick links to sections below:
A wonderful free dyslexia test is available from Nessy Learning. This animated test takes just a few minutes and provides a very helpful assessment summary at the conclusion—it even offers text to voice if you wish to listen to the questions! Plus you get a free e-book download of Dyslexia Explained, the ideal book for explaining dyslexia—perfect for parents and children to read together.
You can also try our simple test below. While this is only a high level assessment, it can provide some some sense of whether or not dyslexia is likely. For questions
below answer yes, no or unknown. The test assumes the child/student is at least 5 years old. Scoring information is provided further below.
If you suspect your child may have dyslexia or a learning disability,
always begin by discussing it with your teacher and school officials. Ideally, they will take the initiative in
conducting an assessment to determine if your child qualifies for
special education resources. Some schools test all students early as the first step in a 'response to intervention' approach to diagnosis and remediation. Under that model, students are placed into one of three tiers of support and can benefit immediately from extra help, if necessary.
Unfortunately, schools often don't take that initiative, have long waiting lists or don't require assessments at all. In that case the onus falls on you as a parent to take action.
If your school has failed to conduct an assessment in a reasonable
time, or you're just not happy with the assessment they have done, and
assuming you can afford it, you may want to have a private assessment
done. The information below is to help you in that quest. Specific
advice is broken out by country.
Unfortunately very few assessors specialize in dyslexia and many schools now only recognize assessments from trained psychologists. And yet most professionally trained psychologists do not include dyslexia identification/screening among their services. This presents a conundrum, but one you can overcome by helping to educate your assessor and advocating for consideration of dyslexia as part of the assessment and in the final report.
Be sure to request a written report of the assessment, ideally one containing specific classroom accommodations, including assistive technology that can be of help to your child. This will make it much easier to get these accommodations into the next iteration of your child's learning plan.
Below is country specific information on finding an assessor.
In the United States,under the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (IDEA) you have a right to request an evaluation of your child if
you feel something formal needs to be done to assist their learning. The
request needs to be made in writing to your school. We suggest you
mention that you would specifically like dyslexia assessment as part of
the process, but just getting the evaluation is key.
For more information and advice on this process watch the National Center for Learning Disabilities video to the right.
If your school will not conduct the kind of detailed assessment you want, or the waiting list is too long, the American Psychological Association provides a helpful directory
You can search for a psychologist according to specialty, but the list does not include psycho-educational assessments; it does include "Education/personal development" and "Learning disabilities". Be sure to inquire with the specific psychologists in your community as to exactly what assessment services they provide.
In the U.K., there are two helpful directories for finding psychologists. The first is the Directory of Chartered Psychologists from the British Psychological Society. This is very similar to the Canadian Psychologist Register noted below. The second is the Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Disabilities (Patoss). Patoss hosts a Tutor/Assessor index containing certified assessors as well as tutors. You simply have to enter your postal code, a distance you are willing to travel and your county.
Each Canadian province has jurisdictional authority over education, creating a hodge podge of special education assessment processes. And while your school may conduct an assessment, awareness of dyslexia is relatively low (very low) in Canada and thus it is very unlikely to be identified. More likely dyslexia will be lumped into a general category of LD or, if you are lucky, described as a reading disability. Unfortunately you may have to seek out a private assessor to test for dyslexia.
An excellent general directory of psychologists in Canada can be found at the Canadian Register of Health Service Psychologists. Simply enter your postal code and indicate how far you are prepared to travel and a list of psychologists is generated. Many of those in the list include psycho-educational assessments among their services.
In addition, below is the very short list of specialist dyslexia assessors / assessment agencies we are aware of in Canada. Please let us know of other dyslexia assessment services.
Province City Org/Name Service
Dyslexia test / assessment
Dyslexia test / assessment
Dyslexia test / assessment
You should always carefully vet any psychologist or assessor to make
sure they will meet your needs. Here are some questions we suggest you
Finally, remember that just because your child has difficulty reading, they may not be assessed as having dyslexia, they may have other reading deficits; see our Types of Dyslexia page for more information.
What will they test exactly?
There is no single dyslexia test or dyslexia screening tool that ensures an accurate diagnosis. Proper, professional dyslexia testing typically involves three elements:
1) An interview with the
parent(s) to establish that a reading problem exists, and to review family
history. You may be asked to bring report cards, previous assessments or
standardized test results and samples of your child's written work.
2) Tests of vision and
hearing from your family doctors as needed, to eliminate them as possible contributing factors
3) A battery of memory, phonemic awareness, reading, vocabulary and intelligence tests to assess cognitive strengths and weaknesses.
A list of the most common professionally administered dyslexia tests are below.
|Test Name||Tests For....||Ages / Grades||Maker|
|Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)||Phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, accuracy and fluency with connected text, reading comprehension, and vocabulary.||K-Gr.6||Dynamic Measurement Group|
|Test of Early Literacy (aimsweb)||Letter naming, letter sound, phoneme segmentation||K-Gr.1||Pearson|
|Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP-2nd Edition)||Reading related phonological processing skills||4-Adult||Pro-Ed, Inc.|
|Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test (LAC-3rd Edition)||Ability to perceive and conceptualize speech sounds using a visual medium and measures the cognitive ability to distinguish and manipulate sounds||5-Adult||Pro-Ed Inc.|
|Test of Phonological Awareness (TOPA 2nd Edition)||Phonological awareness||K-Gr.3||Pro-Ed Inc.|
|The Phonological Awareness Test||A standardized assessment of children's phonological awareness, phoneme-grapheme correspondences, and phonetic decoding skills.||5-9yrs||Linguisystems|
|Yopp Singer Test of Phoneme Segmentation*||Phonemic Awareness||K-Gr.6||Hallie Yopp (developer)|
|Woodcock Reading Mastery Test - III||Reading readiness, basic skills, and comprehension||4-Adult||Richard Woodcock. Distributed by Pearson|
|Gray Oral Reading Test - IV||Oral reading fluency and comprehension||6-Adult||Weiderholt & Bryant. Distributed by Pearson|
|Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)||Intelligence quotient. Not a direct test of dyslexia but commonly administered with dyslexia tests.||6-17yrs||David Wechlser. Distributed by Pearson|
The pen, paper and oral tests above are the best assessment tools available, but they can take a long time to make arrangements for and be very expensive, running between $2000-4000 (U.S.) for a battery of tests. This is not an option for many parents. Assessment software can present an alternative, providing many of the benefits at a much lower cost.
Two examples that educators and parents should consider are Dyslexia Quest from Nessy Learning and Lucid's CoPS or Cognitive Profiling System. Both assess phonological awareness, phoneme discrimination, auditory short term memory and visual short term memory. Dyslexia Quest can now even assess students as old as 16 years.
Neither of these tools, in fact no tool, can diagnose dyslexia specifically, but they can identify the signs and symptoms associated with it, providing real value for parents and teachers alike. The tests are not a replacement for more in depth assessments but their ease of use and lower cost makes them attractive for use at home and school.
Expect between 3-6 hours of testing time, conducted over two or three sessions. While it would be convenient to test in one session, younger children, especially dyslexics, have difficulty maintaining concentration and tire easily. By testing over two sessions, usually early in the day, your child will have the opportunity to perform at their best, providing a more accurate assessment of their ability.
1) Review the Results
You should receive a written report from the psychologist or assessor
and discuss the results with them in some detail. It's important that
the report not just indicate scores, but include an explanation of what the
scores mean. But even more importantly, if the report finds evidence of dyslexia or any
other learning disability (don't expect a conclusive diagnosis) then
it's essential that the report also recommend specific classroom
accommodations because the next step is...
2) Meet with your school
Share the results of the assessment with your child's teacher and whichever member of the administration helps prepare or approve of your child's individual education plan. Be sure that any accommodations or recommendations made by the assessor are incorporated into your child's day to day learning environment. These accommodations may include:
A remarkable 2008 study by Jackie Hewitt-Main found that 53% of a
British prison population had dyslexia compared to about 10% in the general population.
Her reading intervention project had tremendously positive effects on the
inmates' confidence and dramatically lowered re-offending rates.
The prison study is not mentioned to alarm (99% of dyslexics don't go to jail) but just to underline the very high cost that poor literacy skills can take on individuals and our community and the tremendous potential good that comes from early testing and intervention—and of course self esteem boosting.
The key to a positive and successful reading experience is early testing.
Our local school board literally has a multi-year backlog for professional assessment of student disabilities and has for some time. In second grade we paid for our first private psycho-educational assessment which helped to identify strengths and weaknesses but didn't contain the word dyslexia or any recommendations regarding reading remediation.
A couple years later we were lucky to find someone trained as a dyslexia assessment specialist who was also a tutor and trainer. She opened our eyes to the fact that most provincial school boards just aren't assessing or treating dyslexia very well. To no surprise, she confirmed our belief that dyslexia was very likely the cause of the reading problems we had been seeing.
Just before entering high school (grade 9) we paid for a second psycho-educational assessment to assess the learning gap and strengths and weaknesses. This proved invaluable, as for the first time we successful gained entry to the systems classes (more intensive support) available for students with learning disabilities in Ontario. Without the report this would not have been possible.
Our lesson: For dyslexics,
you can't count on the system to work, and may have to take matters into your own
hands. Arrange for a psycho-educational assessment early and find a good tutor, or private school
if necessary. Note that professional assessments can run over $5000, making them prohibitively expensive for some parents.
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