Assessment and Identification of Dyslexia

The identification and intervention process for dyslexia and/or dysgraphia is multifaceted. These processes involve both state and federal requirements that must be followed. Frequently in Texas, dyslexia and/or dysgraphia identification and intervention happens through general education rather than special education. Special education and the assessment through IDEA 2004 may occur when dyslexia and/or dysgraphia is associated with complicating factors, thus requiring more support than what is available through the general education dyslexia and related disorders program.

Prior to Assessment and Identification

In Texas and throughout the country, there is a focus on a Response to Intervention (RtI) or tiered intervention process as a vehicle for meeting the academic and behavioral needs of all students. The components of the Student Success Initiative (SSI) and other state-level programs offer additional support. Current federal legislation under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) calls for the use of benchmark assessments for early identification of struggling students before they fail. In fact, state law requires the use of early reading assessments that are built on substantial evidence of best practices. In Clear Creek ISD, this process is referred to as the Student Success Team (SST) process.

Carefully chosen, these assessments can give crucial information about a student’s learning and can provide a basis for the tiered intervention model. Through the tiered intervention process, schools can document students’ learning difficulties, provide ongoing assessment, and monitor reading achievement progress for students at risk for dyslexia or other reading/writing difficulties.

While not required prior to the assessment and identification of dyslexia and/or dysgraphia, RtI is considered best practice.

Evaluation Procedures

If a decision is made to evaluate a student for dyslexia and/or dysgraphia, consent will be obtained from the parent or guardian via Section 504 or IDEA procedures. Clear Creek ISD uses previously collected, as well as current information, to evaluate the student’s academic progress and determine what actions are needed to ensure the student’s improved academic performance.

Cumulative Data

The academic history of each student will provide the school with the cumulative data needed to ensure that underachievement in a student suspected of having dyslexia and/or dysgraphia is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading. This information should include data that demonstrates that the student was provided appropriate instruction and include data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals (progress monitoring), reflecting formal assessment of student progress during instruction. This cumulative data also includes information from parents/guardians. 

Sources and examples of cumulative data include, but are not limited to:

  • Vision and hearing screening
  • Teacher input
  • SST data
  • Report cards
  • G/T  assessments (if applicable)
  • Samples of classwork
  • K - 2 reading assessment (BAS)
  • K - 2 math assessment (DNC)
  • State assessment results
  • Full Individual Evaluations (if applicable)
  • Outside assessments (if applicable)
  • Speech and Language assessments (if applicable)
  • Attendance records
  • Curriculum Based Assessments (CBAs)
  • Second Language Learner information such as
    • Home Language Surveys
    • English Proficiency data
    • TELPAS
    • Language of instruction and intervention information

Formal Evaluation

After data gathering, the next step in the process is formal evaluation. This is not a screening; rather, it is an individualized evaluation used to gather evaluation data. Formal evaluation involves multiple sources of data, including informal, criterion, curriculum and norm referenced data. All data will be used to determine whether the student demonstrates a pattern of evidence for dyslexia and/or dysgraphia. Professionals conducting evaluation for the identification of dyslexia  and/or dysgraphia will need to look beyond scores on standardized assessments alone and examine the student’s classroom reading performance, educational history, and early language experiences to assist with determining reading and spelling abilities and difficulties.

Domains assessed for dyslexia include:

  • Academic achievement
    • Letter knowledge 
    • Reading words in isolation
    • Decoding nonsense words
    • Reading fluency (both rate and accuracy)
    • Reading comprehension
    • Spelling
  • Cognitive areas associated with dyslexia
    • Phonological/Phonemic Awareness
    • Rapid Naming
  • Other optional areas
    • Listening comprehension
    • Orthographic processing
    • Phonological memory

Domains assessed for the identification of dysgraphia include:
coming soon!

Identification of Dyslexia and/or Dysgraphia

The identification of dyslexia and/or dysgraphia is made by a §504 committee or, in the case of a special education referral, the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee. In order to make an informed determination, either committee must include members who are knowledgeable about the student being assessed, assessments used, and meaning of the collected data. Additionally, the committee members should have knowledge regarding the reading process; dyslexia and related disorders; dyslexia and/or dysgraphia instruction; and district or charter school, state, and federal guidelines for assessment.  

In Clear Creek ISD, assessment results are first reviewed by a Dyslexia/Dysgraphia Assessment Committee (DAC) and recommendations regarding eligibility are made to the §504 or ARD committee. The DAC members look beyond scores on standardized assessments alone and examine the student’s classroom reading and writing performance, educational history, and early language experiences to assist with determining reading and spelling abilities and difficulties.

To be identified with dyslexia, there must be
 a preponderance of data supporting: 

  • A pattern of low reading and spelling skills and
  • An underlying cognitive deficit in either
    • phonological/phonemic awareness (or history of such deficit)
    • rapid symbolic naming
    • orthographic processing
  • That is unexpected for the student in relation to the student’s other cognitive abilities and provision of effective classroom instruction.

To be identified with dysgraphia, there must be a preponderance of data supporting:
coming soon!

Re-evaluations for Dyslexia and/or Dysgraphia

According to the International Dyslexia Association, “Dyslexia is a lifelong condition. However, with proper help, many people with dyslexia can learn to read and write well. Early identification and treatment is the key to helping individuals with dyslexia achieve in school and in life."

TEA does not require students with dyslexia and/or dysgraphia to undergo re-evaluation therefore, formal re-evaluations are not conducted. However, students will be re-evaluated for the need for continued services periodically. 

Parent Request for Evaluation and Identification

Parents/guardians always have the right to request a referral for a dyslexia evaluation at any time. Once a parent request for dyslexia and/or dysgraphia evaluation has been made, the school district is obligated to review the student’s data history (both formal and informal data) to determine whether there is reason to believe the student has a disability. If a disability is suspected, the student needs to be evaluated following the guidelines outlined in this chapter. If the school does not suspect a disability and determines that evaluation would not be warranted, the parents/guardians must be given a copy of their due process rights. While §504 is silent on prior written notice, best practice is to provide a parent the reasons an evaluation is denied.

Privately Obtained Evaluations

A parent/guardian may choose to have his/her child evaluated by a private diagnostician or other source. To be valid, this assessment must comply with the requirements set forth in §504 and the guidelines in the Dyslexia Handbook.  The evaluation provided is part of the evaluation data but does not, independently, create eligibility.

Outside evaluations will be reviewed by the SST (including the dyslexia teacher) and a decision whether to refer for a dyslexia evaluation under Section 504 or IDEA will be made. If the SST does not refer for evaluation, the parents/guardians must be given a copy of their due process rights. While §504 is silent on prior written notice, best practice is to provide a parent the reasons an evaluation is denied. If evaluation is recommended, consent for an evaluation will be obtained from the parent/guardian. If necessary, additional formal evaluation will be conducted and all data reviewed by the DAC team.

Testing/Assessment Resources

Parenting Perspectives: Understanding Test Scores
Handy Handouts, Testing Tips!
Handy Handouts: Testing Tips - Spanish
NASP Test Scores: A Guide to Understanding and Using Test Results
IDA Testing and Evaluation

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