Monday, February 24, 2014

Dyslexia: The deconstruction of school testing

By Kelli Sandman-Hurley, Ed.D.

This may come as a surprise, but most school psychologists do not know how to identify dyslexia, and if they do identify a reading problem, it is usually mislabeled as an auditory processing disorder. To further complicate the problem, the report may do an excellent job of describing the reading and writing issues and then fall absurdly short in the recommendations section.  Recently, I read a report that did a beautiful job of explaining a young girl’s difficulty with decoding, spelling and fluency. The tests showed a clear deficit in phonological awareness, so what were the recommendations that got my blood boiling and provoked me to throw my arms in the air? Student needs to improve reading. Yes, that’s right. That was the recommendation to the IEP team. So, what is the underlying issue and what do parents and teachers need to know about the testing in order to make appropriate recommendations? Read on for answers.
Problem #1:One size fits all – or does it?
If you have seen one psychoeducational report conducted by a school psyschologist, then my friend, you have seen them all. And herein lies one of the biggest roadblocks to appropriate intervention. When presented with a student who is struggling with reading and writing, most schools will test the following areas: I.Q., Visual Processing (usually TVPS-3), Auditory Processing (usually TAPS-3), academics (usually the Woodcock-Johnson), and an observation that usually does not include a description of what was actually produced during the observation. This sounds good, it looks thorough, it looks complete, but when it comes to assessing a child with dyslexia, there usually are three things missing: a test of phonological awareness, phonological memory and rapid naming (such as the CTOPP-2), oral reading (such as the GORT-5), a spontaneous writing sample and appropriate interpretation of the scores.
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If you would like more information about Dyslexia or other learning disabilities, please call Family Matters at 866-436-7842.

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