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Dyslexia Testing Results: What They Mean for Instruction and Supports

By Amanda Morin

At a Glance

  • Interpreting dyslexia testing results can be tricky.

  • Weaknesses in different reading skills require different types of accommodations and tools.

  • Subtest scores can tell you and teachers the type of help your child needs to succeed in school.

Making sense of dyslexia testing results can be tough. If your child has trouble with reading and has had a full evaluation, you may wonder how to interpret the scores on tests that look at key reading skills.

The evaluation report will show an overall score for reading. That score doesn’t show the complete picture, however, because it’s based on a group of subtests that look at different skills involved in reading.

Your child might have an overall score that’s in the average range for that age group, for instance. But one or two of the subtest scores might be low-average.

When the overall score is in the average range, but one subtest score is much below the others, that’s sometimes referred to as a “relative weakness.” Seeing those subtest scores can be helpful in knowing where your child needs some help.

This chart shows what each reading skill entails, and how the school may be able to support your child.

Reading Skill Tested Instructional Strategies Accommodations and Tools

Phonological awareness: The ability to recognize and work with sounds. This involves:

  • Understanding rhyming and being able to rhyme
  • Changing sounds in words to make new words (like from cat to bat)
  • Blending and splitting syllables
  • Breaking a word into a series of sounds
  • Blending sounds into words
  • Identifying the first, middle or ending sounds of words

Teachers can help by: Using explicit, evidence-based, step-by-step phonics instruction. This type of instruction typically uses a multisensory approach.

The classroom teacher may use this approach. But students often get this instruction from a reading specialist (typically before being identified with a learning disability) or from a special education teacher.

That can happen as part of an intervention or as part of special education.

Accommodations

  • Having text read aloud
  • Listening to recorded versions of text
  • Assistive technology
  • Reduced length and complexity of texts
  • Extra time on tests and assignments

Related Services

Decoding: The ability to sound out unfamiliar words using the rules of phonics. This involves:

  • Sounding out letters and clusters of letters
  • Recognizing word families (e.g., mat, fat, bat)
  • Knowing how to predict unfamiliar words

Teachers can help by: Using evidence-based instruction and interventions focused on blending letter sounds to make words. This type of instruction typically uses multisensory techniques.

The classroom teacher may use this approach. But students often get this instruction from a reading specialist (typically before being identified with a learning disability) or from a special education teacher.

That can happen as part of an intervention or as part of special education.

Accommodations

  • Use of “cheat sheets” for the spelling of prefixes, suffixes and vowels in difficult words
  • Use of “cheat sheets” for word families—groups of words with common patterns, sounds or combinations of letters (cat, hat and pat are all members of the -at family)
  • Having text read aloud
  • Opportunities for repeated readings
  • Assistive technology

Related Services

  • Speech-language therapy
  • Support from a reading specialist or an instructional assistant

Reading fluency: Reading without many errors, at a reasonable speed, and with proper expression (when reading aloud). This involves:

  • Reading words accurately
  • Recognizing words without having to sound them out
  • Using appropriate tone, expression, phrasing and volume
  • Reading at a conversation pace and smoothly

Teachers can help by:

  • Using evidence-based interventions and instruction to improve decoding skills that are needed to read fluently
  • Focusing on improving letter and sound recognition (phonological awareness)

The classroom teacher may use this approach. But students often get this instruction from a reading specialist (typically before being identified) or from a special education teacher.

That can happen as part of an intervention or as part of special education.

Accommodations

  • Having text read aloud
  • Opportunities for repeated readings
  • Assistive technology like text-to-speech
  • Having key vocabulary words in an assigned book or text provided and reviewed
  • Extended time for assignments and tests

Related Services

  • Support from a reading specialist or an instructional assistant

Reading comprehension: Understanding and gaining meaning from text while reading. This involves:

  • Understanding individual words and sentences
  • Having a strong enough vocabulary
  • Recalling what was read

Teachers can help by:

  • Using structured, connected and scaffolded instruction
  • Organizing knowledge and skills into “chunks” to present in a logical way
  • Showing connections between the new “chunks” and what kids already know
  • Teaching the features of different genres of text (fiction, nonfiction, persuasive writing, etc.)
  • Teaching skills needed to contrast, compare, infer and talk about what was read
  • Doing read-alouds and think-alouds

Accommodations

  • Having a review of key vocabulary terms in a text
  • Having a summary of the text before reading
  • Use of a study guide
  • Use of sticky notes or highlighters to mark important information
  • Having help with explaining the text in their own words
  • Having an adult read aloud text in content area subjects
  • Opportunities for repeated readings
  • Extra time on assignments and tests
  • Having an extra set of textbooks to use at home

Assistive Technology Tools

Evaluation reports can be dense and full of terms you may not know. Be sure to ask the evaluation team to clarify or explain things in the report. And keep asking until you fully understand each part of the test setup and results.

Learn more about requesting an evaluation for your child. Explore why your child’s testing results may vary. And read one mother’s story of the long road to getting a diagnosis for her son’s learning differences.

Key Takeaways

  • Multisensory instruction can help kids who struggle with various reading skills.

  • Certain related services, like speech-language therapy, can help kids with decoding, phonological awareness and other reading skills.

  • Ask the evaluation team to clarify or explain things you don’t understand in your child’s evaluation report.

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Share Dyslexia Testing Results: What They Mean for Instruction and Supports

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Email
  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom