This resource centre contains lots of useful information on various aspects of dyslexia and learning difficulties. Click on an item in the menu to the right to display the information for that item in the page area below.

If there is anything you want to know and are unable to find it here then please feel free to contact Dyslexikit.

Assessments and Tests

Whether children have difficulties or not, it is important to know the stage that children have reached in their learning. In this way, the most appropriate level of teaching can be delivered.

This is even more important for children who have some difficulties. School teaching staff should be able, at the very least, to test your child’s reading and spelling levels. Test results will tell you your child’s reading and spelling ages.

Many different tests will do this. Probably the best reading accuracy tests are those that require your child to read single words rather than sentences. These will show how well your child ‘decodes’ words without the help of context – the meaning provided by the other words in a sentence. Other reading tests will provide information about how well your child gets meaning from text, and how quickly he reads.

Reading and spelling tests may also provide what is known as a Standard Score. This is the best score for comparing your child’s level with those of his peers. A Standard Score is given as a number and shows the extent to which your child’s score is above or below the average for children of the same age as your child. An average Standard Score will always be a number between 85 and 115 for any test. Below 85 is below average: above 115 is above average.

If you are shown your child’s test scores, you may sometimes see a Percentile Rank number. This is your child’s rank in a standard group of 100 people on whom the test was normed. Percentile Ranks, therefore, range from 1 to 99 with 50 representing an average performance on the test. The disadvantage of a percentile score is that the scale units are not equal over the range of possible scores. A Standard Score is a far better indicator of level and you should ask for this when possible.

To summarise, a reading or spelling test will usually provide you with three types of score:

  • Age equivalent
  • Standard Score
  • Percentile Rank

If you are concerned that your child may be dyslexic, you should seek a detailed assessment from an educational psychologist or a Specialist Teacher with an appropriate level of training and qualification.

These specialist assessments will provide much more information for you and your child’s teacher. You should be offered a full battery of tests that will detail your child difficulties and strengths. You should also be provided with a full and detailed report. The report will provide information about the tests used, the results and implications, and recommendations for teaching. You can sometimes organize a full assessment through your child’s school, but you may otherwise need to seek an independent assessment, which normally incurs a fee. Independent assessments are available for any age group.

GCSE Students

GCSE Awarding Bodies (used to be called Examination Boards) have a responsibility to ensure equal opportunities for young people taking exams. With this in mind, special arrangements, known as Access Arrangements, are sometimes provided for children in order that they are not unfairly disadvantaged, and that they achieve the grades they deserve.

There are different kinds of Access Arrangements depending on the young person’s difficulties and their eligibility. An assessment is always required before a decision is made by the school and/or the Awarding Body, and an assessment does not guarantee that Access Arrangements will be granted.

The main types of Access Arrangements are:

  • Extra time, for candidates who work very slowly
  • Rest breaks, for poor concentration or extreme stress
  • Readers, for extremely poor or non-readers
  • Reading aloud, for those who have reading difficulties and who concentrate better if they can hear themselves
  • Scribes, for those whose writing is virtually illegible
  • Word processors, for very poor writers but who are used to typing their work
  • Transcripts of scripts which may be hard for the examiners to read
  • Prompters, for those who lose concentration very easily.

There are no arrangements for poor spellers.

Candidates should be identified as early as possible in their school career so that:

  • Candidates know what is available
  • Arrangements are in place for module tests, course work and terminal papers
  • The Centre or school can make the arrangements
  • The arrangements can reflect what normally happens in the classroom
  • Early application can be made to the Awarding Bodies
  • Candidates can practice using the agreed arrangements in class tests, annual exams, Natioanl Curriculum Tests and mock exams.

A diagnosis of dyslexia is no longer sufficient to allow a candidate extra time. Awarding Bodies now require evidence of need in the normal working arrangements. That is there must be evidence that the young person also uses extra time in class and for tests and school exams. There must be a report from an appropriately qualified specialist.

If you are unsure, speak to your child’s school at the earliest opportunity.