Assessment and Evaluation

Assessment of Language-based Literacy and Cognitive Processes

The assessment will identify the primary or core cognitive weaknesses responsible for a literacy or processing disability. Thanks to excellent research, we now know how and why some children acquire reading, spelling, writing and literacy skills, and why others do not acquire the same skills.*  Assessment informs instruction. Before a remediation plan can be developed, an inclusive assessment must be obtained, including both formal and informal measures.

What should be assessed?

  • Family and individual history including health and school background
  • Strengths and weaknesses in aptitude for learning in verbal, logical, mathematical, visual-motor, visual-spatial, symbolic, memory and attentional domains
  • Specific language skills related to reading and writing success, particularly phonological processing, letter naming, and rapid naming of objects
  • Single word decoding, including the ability to apply phonic word attack to reading nonsense words (frim, ploige)
  • Listening and reading fluency (accuracy and speed)
  • Reading comprehension
  • Timed single word reading
  • Spelling
  • Written composition to include evaluation of word choice, conceptual organization, sentence quality, elaboration of ideas, grammar, use of punctuation, and use of capitalization
  • Handwriting

Differential diagnosis

A comprehensive evaluation will determine whether the student’s learning problems may be related to other difficulties. Attention Deficit Disorder, affective disorders, pervasive developmental disorders, and physical or sensory impairments are among the other causes of learning problems.

How long does testing take?

Testing usually takes from five to six hours. The testing sessions are normally divided into two segments of two and one half, or three hours each. Younger children may need three segments.

The report

A written report will cover clinical observations, the student’s personal, health and school history, test scores, strengths and weaknesses on tests, interpretive statements, and very specific remedial recommendations. The report will be reviewed and explained in a consultation meeting.


When previous testing is current but lacks one or several of the bulleted components above, a less lengthy screening can be conducted to complete the evaluation. Also, some students merely need a screening of a specific literacy skill to determine their processing abilities in that skill. A writing screening, mechanics screening, phonological screening, or spelling screening are examples.

*If a parent or teacher has a concern about the literacy abilities of a young child (kindergarten or first grade), screening is available in order to assess the risk of potential literacy disorders, and then preventative research-driven instruction can be provided if needed.

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