For Parents



The earlier you identify the deficits, discrepancies and delays the more effective the appropriate remediation. Testing will either confirm or rule out the presence of a learning disability and clarify how best to help your child.



If your child is having difficulty remembering letter names or sounds, learning to read and spell, difficulty remembering math facts or focusing in class, he or she should be tested as soon as possible. The earlier you identify the deficits, discrepancies and delays the more effective the appropriate remediation. Testing will either confirm or rule out the presence of a learning disability and clarify how best to help your child. The earlier an identification of Specific Language Disability (dyslexia) is made, the more effective the appropriate remediation will be. To make an accurate diagnosis, the psychologist will take a personal history, perform academic and cognitive testing. 

Assessments, Testing

Diagnosing Dyslexia

Many factors need to be investigated when making a diagnosis of dyslexia:

  • Cognitive Factors
  • Educational Factors
  • Social/Emotional Factors
  • Environmental Factors
  • Systematic Observation

Personal History

The psychologist may ask questions pertaining to the following areas to help determine factors causing academic difficulties and to gain an understanding of your child’s strengths and interests.


  • Pregnancy, birth, sleeping, early behaviour
  • Delays in reaching milestones, e.g. walking, talking
  • Major events affecting family, e.g. divorce, multiple moves
  • Medical history: eyes, ears, allergies, operations
  • Presence of learning disabilities in the family
  • Social relationships
  • Personal organization of room, desk, materials
  • Presence of oppositional behaviour
  • Presence of attentional issues
  • Extra-curricular hobbies, sports, remediation
  • Memory at home and school, due dates, chores
  • Mood, triggering factors

Academic Testing

Testing can be informal or formal.
Informal tests are usually designed by teachers to investigate specific skills involved in academic skills. They include check lists, observations, inventories, rating scales, worksheets, written samples of students’ work, tests, quizzes, oral responses, and group projects. Informal testing can be used to compare the student to others in his grade level or to track an individual student’s progress over time. Results can be reported as percentages, averages, graphs.

Formal tests are standardized tests. Standardized tests are developed by test specialists using a sample of people who represent a “standard” for a larger group of people. These tests are administered and scored according to a set procedure, which can not be modified. Results on formal tests are reported as percentiles, Standard Scores, Age Equivalent (AE) and Grade Equivalent (GE) scores.

Norm-referenced tests are standardized tests that are developed so that an individual’s performance can be compared (referenced) to a particular group of students, the norm group. Jay may be the lowest scoring student in his Grade 5 class, but this does not mean he is the lowest scoring student with regard to other students in Grade 5 province-wide.

Academic Tests in Common Use


Phonological Awareness

CTOPP-2, Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing, 2nd Ed.
LAC-3, Lindamood Auditory Conceptualization Test, 3rd Ed.
TOWRE -2, Test of Word Reading Efficiency, 2nd Ed.
WRMT III, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests, 3rd Ed.


Gillingham Manual: Informal Spelling Inventory pp. 306-309
TWS-4, Test of Written Spelling, 4th Ed.
WIAT III, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Ed.
WJ-IV, Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement, 4th Ed.

Decoding/Reading (Words Lists)

Gallistel-Ellis Test of Coding Skills
WIAT III, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Ed.
WRMT III, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests, 3rd Ed.

Reading and Vocabulary Comprehension

Burns Roe Informal Reading Inventory, 6th Ed
Expressive Vocabulary Test EVT-2
PPVT-4, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, 4th Ed.
WIAT III, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Ed.
W-J IV, Tests of Achievement, 4th Ed.
WRMT-III, Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests, 3rd Ed.


Tracing, copying of letters, words
Beery Test of Visual-Motor Integration (VMI)
MHA, Minnesota Handwriting Assessment

Expressive Writing

TOWL-4, Test of Written Language, 4th Ed.
WIAT III, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Ed.

Listening Comprehension

Burns Roe Informal Reading Inventory, 6th Ed
WIAT III, Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, 3rd Ed.

Cognitive Testing

These tests seek to assess the child’s thinking and reasoning skills. The most commonly used intelligence test is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC- V). There are 10 subtests, which when combined yield five composite scores referred to as indices:

Verbal Comprehension

Visual Spatial

Fluid Reasoning

Working Memory

Processing Speed

WISC-V Each index has several tests

Verbal Comprehension

  • Similarities
  • Vocabulary
  • Information
  • Comprehension

Working Memory

  • Digit Span
  • Picture Span
  • Letter-Number Sequencing

Visual Spatial

  • Block Design
  • Visual Puzzles

Fluid Reasoning

  • Matrix Reasoning
  • Figure Weights
  • Picture Concepts
  • Arithmetic

Processing Speed

  • Coding
  • Symbol Search
  • Cancellation
WISC-V Description of Indices

Verbal Comprehension

  • capacity to use symbolic reason (concept formation, ability to categorize and compare)
  • language comprehension
  • verbal communication

Visual Spatial

  • nonverbal concept formation (visual pattern recognition)
  • visual perception and organization
  • visual-motor integration

Fluid Reasoning

  • visual classification
  • quantitative reasoning
  • identification of relationships between parts and wholes
  • capacity to solve novel problems independent of previously acquired knowledge

Working Memory

  • auditory short-term memory (i.e., the ability to retain information and to manipulate it as needed)

Processing Speed

  • processing speed of visual information
  • production of fine-motor (i.e., graphic) responses

Test Results

  • Test results are recorded in percentiles.
  • A percentile score ranks a child’s test performance relative to the performance of other children his/her age. Percentiles range from 1 to 99. A percentile score of 20 means that 20 out of 100 children would have scored lower and 80 would have scored higher.

Percentile ranges:

Very Superior 98th percentile to 99.9th percentile
Superior 92nd percentile to 97th percentile
High Average 76th percentile to 91st percentile
Average 25th percentile to 75th percentile
Low Average 9th percentile to 23rd percentile
Borderline 2nd percentile to 8th percentile
Very Low 0.1st percentile to 2nd percentile

IQ Is Not Everything

  • Standardized test scores represent a possible score within a range of confidence. The greater the confidence the larger the range of possible scores.
  • Student’s performance varies day to day, month to month
  • Intelligence tests do not really test “intelligence” they test behavior and performance. There are many ways of being “intelligent”.
  • Removing emotional negativity frequently has remarkable effects on a child’s ability to learn.

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Miss Peddle, Grade 6

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